Japan Earthquake Disaster Recovery

by Peace Winds America
Christmas tree decorating
Christmas tree decorating

“There are still a lot of problems, but because people support us and help us to have a good time I have energy to keep working hard to recover.”  --Tsumori township resident at Peace Winds event

In December residents of Kumamoto’s temporary housing (now recognized by local governments as townships) gathered together to decorate Christmas trees, make holiday wreaths, and share tea and fresh-baked cookies. Peace Winds held events in three townships, reaching over 650 people. 

Peace Winds has been supporting township residents since October. Peace Winds is particularly concerned about the elderly.  Our experience in the Tohoku Great Earthquake and Tsunami taught us the disruption of social life and community networks caused by displacement is particularly hard on those over 65 years old.  We want to prevent this from happening in Kumamoto.

During interviews Peace Winds conducted in October, many residents said they were eager to forget their troubles and focus on the positive. “I want it to feel like the Christmas season and for children to create fun memories,” said one resident.  Another said, “The temporary housing is so dark; I want to brighten things up and make it cheery.”

Because of the overwhelming support of our donors on Giving Tuesday, Peace Winds was able to fulfill these wishes.  Event attendees decorated Christmas trees, ate holiday treats, and made wreaths under the tutelage of an artist Peace Winds hired. These activities prompted new connections. “I talked with someone I had never met before when I helped her learn how to make the wreath,” said one participant. These events were the best-attended events Peace Winds has hosted. Peace Winds also distributed cookies and tea to all the households in temporary housing.

To combat the social alienation and isolation that occur in temporary housing, Peace Winds is supporting the creation of residents’ associations in each township where Peace Winds is providing training and resources for 128 association leaders to help them support their residents.

In Kumamoto, the toll of stress, isolation, and related illnesses has been toxic, especially among the elderly who accounted for 90 percent of post- earthquake deaths. The temporary housing residents, particularly the elderly, have expressed their strong desire and need for community-building activities to combat isolation and stress.  Peace Winds is listening and planning seasonal events such the Doll’s Festival (Hina-Matsuri) in March, memorial events in April, summer festivals and even casual get-togethers.  Peace Winds is regularly sponsoring beautification activities, teas and dinner/lunch parties, games and exercises, sing alongs, and more.  We hear from all ages the community-building events raise spirits and help residents move forward during this difficult period. 

Thank you for partnering with Peace Winds to bring hope and joy into the families, young and old, in temporary housing.

Homemade wreaths
Homemade wreaths
Homemade cookies on the tree
Homemade cookies on the tree
Box of homemade Christmas cookies
Box of homemade Christmas cookies
Women linger to talk long after event ends
Women linger to talk long after event ends
Distributing heating carpets while kids play
Distributing heating carpets while kids play

Peace Winds staff visited Kumamoto in late October to review its project to provide household supplies to families moving from shelters to temporary housing. Your donations allowed Peace Winds America to achieve its goal of distributing household kits to 2000 families.

Peace Winds America and Peace Winds Japan achieved this goal at the end of October providing housing kits to evacuated households in the Kumamoto Prefecture. Those kits included either a heating carpet, television, dehumidifier, or vacuum cleaner.

After distribution, Peace Winds interviewed individuals like Kimito (pictured below). Kimito, is a teenager and victim of the Kumamoto Earthquakes. He lives with his parents, four brothers, and pet dog in a temporary housing unit that is approximately 208 square feet. As the second eldest brother he’s been forced to grow up fast. Kimito is finishing high school online at night, so he can work full time at a local grocery store.

 When interviewed, Kimito expressed his sense of loss. He misses his friends and neighbors, and the community that surrounded him before the earthquake destroyed his family’s home. He worried for his hometown Mashiki. The sheer amount of destruction was so great that he feared it may never fully recover. He was thankful for the housing supplies, since the heating carpet will be especially helpful this winter.

NOTE: Global Giving is matching donations to PWA’s Kumamoto Program on November 29th, Giving Tuesday.   This 50 percent match will increase our impact. Peace Winds has planned community building events from now through the spring. Upcoming events include a holiday gathering to decorate a community Christmas tree, a craft themed gathering where residents will create holiday wreaths, and of course, several shinnenkai. This spring, Peace Winds is planning to build a dog park, playground, and a community greenhouse for the residents.

Peace Winds delivers a heating carpet to Kimito
Peace Winds delivers a heating carpet to Kimito
PWA contributes to a Mashiki community remembrance
PWA contributes to a Mashiki community remembrance
Kimito at work
Kimito at work

Links:

Helping evacuees move to government housing.
Helping evacuees move to government housing.

For the past five months Kumamoto earthquake evacuees have been living in basic shelters, tents, and housing camps in Mashiki and Nishihara and other towns in the region.  Peace Winds has been providing shelters, food, and counseling, targeting those with children, pets, and special needs. 

The Local and Central Governments have nearly completed building more suitable housing for the evacuees, and Peace Winds is now planning to move 2,000 families to the new homes and provide them with basic household supplies.  

The move to better housing is long awaited and in time for the change of seasons.  The new housing will provide increased privacy, more space, and necessary amenities required to make it a “home” including indoor kitchens and bathrooms, a welcome change for evacuees who have long shared latrines and communal kitchens.  The evacuees will be in temporary housing up to three years. 

Peace Winds will be assisting the evacuees with their move as the new housing is completed.  Additionally Peace Winds will provide the families with kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies, vacuum cleaners, air filters/dehumidifiers, heating carpets, and heaters.  Peace Winds is planning to have the all evacuees in their new housing by the end of 2016.

Peace Winds welcomes your support to relocate 2,000 families from Mashiki and Nishihara to new housing and to provide each family with basic household set-up kits to make the new homes more comfortable.  Thank you. 

Evacuees enjoy community space in PWA tent camp .
Evacuees enjoy community space in PWA tent camp .

Four months after earthquakes struck Kumamoto Peace Winds America maintains a presence in Mashiki, one of the hardest hit areas.  Despite government efforts to provide housing for evacuees, outside assistance is still needed and will be for some time. Like our commitment to Tohoku, we remain steadfast in our support of Kumamoto residents.

After the earthquakes Peace Winds immediately performed search-and-rescue and provided evacuees with basic necessities: food, water, shelter, sanitation facilities, blankets, and hygiene kits.  Peace Winds moved quickly to provide shelter to those who had lost their homes, paying special attention to vulnerable evacuees – the elderly, pregnant women, families with children, and those with pets.  Peace Winds opened camps in Mashiki town on a gymnasium lawn and an outdoor field. There Peace Winds provided family tents, mats, blankets, latrines, and many of the comforts of home:  showers, kitchen space, TV, and a sense of normalcy in coffee and conversation as the community gathered together.

When the government could not provide temporary housing in time for the hot and rainy season, Peace Winds provided 80 pre-fabricated homes, five trailers, and a camping car for evacuees during the hot summer months.  Peace Winds continues to provide meals once a week, as well as activities like the well-attended summer festivals to encourage personal, family, and community health and welfare.  Peace Winds will continue this facility and activities as the needs remain.

The Mashiki town council is constructing 1,285 temporary houses, yet this falls short of the need by 230 families. Peace Winds America remains committed to Kumamoto evacuees, just as we remain steadfast in our support of the Tohoku region.

As always, thank you for your support which makes this work possible.

Peace Winds temporary housing in Mashiki.
Peace Winds temporary housing in Mashiki.
PWJ search and rescue crew in Kumamoto
PWJ search and rescue crew in Kumamoto

Even as PWA continues to support long-term recovery and rehabilitation in Tohoku, this quarter we have faced yet another disaster in Japan. The earthquakes of April 14-16 devastated a wide swath of Kumamoto Prefecture, killed 49 people and injured over 3,000.  Peace Winds America immediately began conducting outreach to partners and potential supporters.

PWA’s long involvement in Tohoku has informed and even improved this new response. PWA partnership with Peace Winds Japan has been strengthened, yielding fast response and a rapid disbursement of resources.  Locally our longstanding commitment to Tohoku has assured donors and supporters that we direct resources where they are most needed. Our experience in Tohoku has helped us and PWJ quickly assess needs and provide needed food, water, shelter, showers, sanitation, and other resources to displaced residents of Kumamoto.

As immediate relief in Kumamoto transitions to recovery, we will determine with partners how best to assist those needs.  Yet we will not diminish our attention on Tohoku, whose needs remain. Our partnership with Minamisanriku community centers will continue and we will actively seek out new opportunities to assist the coastal fishing communities of Tohoku.

Thank you for your support for both of these responses.

A pet-friendly Peace Winds shelter
A pet-friendly Peace Winds shelter
 

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Organization Information

Peace Winds America

Location: Seattle, WA - USA
Website: http:/​/​peacewindsamerica.org/​
Project Leader:
Rumi Naito
Seattle, Washington United States
$58,428 raised of $65,000 goal
 
333 donations
$6,572 to go
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