Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected

by Japan Emergency NGO (JEN)
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Relief Assistance for Tohoku Earthquake Affected
Participants were trying to develop team-building
Participants were trying to develop team-building

Reports from the government often paradoxically refer to the earthquake-affected regions in Tohoku as “a pioneering region in the emergence of ahead-of-its-time problems.” Indeed, the region is facing challenges in tackling a diversity of problems that either were worsened by or surfaced after the earthquake. 

These are:

- Demographic aging accelerated by the disaster;

- Emergence of people who got separated from their families;

- Growing concern for poverty and isolation surfaced after the disaster; and

- Lack of stable jobs.


Trusting the resilience of people involved  and their communities, seven local organizations are squarely accepting the challenges in a progressive manner that was unthinkable before the disaster.

JEN aligned with the organizations from three prefectures and is supporting  financially and providing technical assistance.

We are not simply a donor. Having shared a vision that “leave no one behind, in efforts to rebuild the affected areas,” We are deeply involved with these organizations in operation.

JEN support them:

(1) Plan their activities;

(2) Monitor their progress and assess the results of their activities, and;

(3) Improve their capabilities to cope with challenges through custom-made trainings or building a network of contacts.


The lists of JEN partners.

JEN held a partner meeting in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture on December 14th and 15th, 2016, bringing together all the partners for the first time and providing a workshop on how to run operations or organizations where they can share other partners’ knowledge.

Even if our partners are diverse, ranging from infants to the elderly, the partners are the same in that they seek to create a society where no one left behind in efforts to rebuild the affected areas.

They trust the resilience of individuals and their communities. The participants of the workshop said:

“We could see possibilities to work with other organizations that have different perspective from us; we came to realize new challenges facing us.” “Some projects appeared irrelevant to us at first, but I came to realize they also are trying not to leave anyone marginalized. Thus, it made us want to try harder. We are motivated.”

We got some other opinions: JEN’s involvement on the early planning stage helped us clarify the significance of our efforts, use an objective evaluation that looks at our results, and expand our cooperation with other organizations.

JEN partners with an organization in an effort to not only combine both performance  but also multiply the performance by many times just like throwing many birds with one stone until infinity, if possible.

This is achieved through coming up with necessary public services in order to realize a society where no one would not be left behind in efforts to rebuild the affected areas. JEN is committed to playing a role in working with  the partnership function more synergistically.

The partner meeting
The partner meeting
A group photo of the participants
A group photo of the participants
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The first experience to hold babies on the back
The first experience to hold babies on the back

Enjoying each other's company, mothers are wielding kitchen knives in a cooking room; one of the mothers is carrying a baby in a wide cotton sling and the baby is watching them cooking over his/her mother’s shoulder.

This workshop, hosted by Fukushima Midwife Association, provides mothers an opportunity to learn how to prepare food for infants.

This workshop was aimed at helping mothers by easing their concerns for weaning food and provided mothers with an opportunity to learn how to cook a family meal while strapping their babies to their back. On top of that, they were also able to get answers to the questions they had in everyday life, such as:

what kind of age-appropriate diet mothers should give to their babies;
whether mothers may feed breast milk or formula to their babies as much as their babies want;
whether they worry needlessly about food allergies; and
how to be sure they are feeding their babies a balanced diet.

Choosing Fukushima Midwife Association as an alliance partner, JEN has been assisting the “Midwife-driven Comprehensive Expectant and Nursing Mothers Support Project” since June, 2016. While dealing with calls from mothers after the earthquake, the association realized that so many mothers were worrying about how to raise their babies. Accordingly that led the association to believe that addressing their concerns would help them feel good about themselves and become confident about themselves. Consequently the association has implemented the project in which it teaches mothers how to make weaning diets and cook while rocking their babies on their backs so that they don’t have to leave their crying babies as they are.

Another important thing in addressing mothers’ concerns is to help them to enhance their relationship with local communities.

 Some of the mothers’ replies were:
”My worries and anxieties disappeared thanks to the midwife’s advice;”
”I was able to consult with other mothers.”

The workshop conducted by nutritionists
The workshop conducted by nutritionists
The mothers and their babies eat meals together
The mothers and their babies eat meals together
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The last Grassroots Women's Academy in Iwate
The last Grassroots Women's Academy in Iwate

JEN has been partnering with local NPO’s as a new form of community support activity since October, 2015. In July, 2016, JEN partnered with “Women’s Eye”, a certified non-profit organisation based in the city of Tome in Miyagi Prefecture. In this report, we will see the types of activities that the new partner undertakes.

“Women’s Eye” was launched in July, 2013 after taking over the duties from its predecessor, “RQ Women Support Centre (Tome city, Miyagi Prefecture)” which was organized in July, 2011 by disaster-relief volunteers who came to work in and around the Sanriku shoreline.

During its support activities soon after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, they witnessed that women in affected areas take a backseat to men as the breadwinner, or children as students, either in their homes or communities. It became a calling for them to focus on helping such women to utilize their abilities and to play a more outgoing role in their homes and communities by giving them an opportunity to live life differently. In order to find out how to the help best these women, they carried out research from the point of view from women, mindful of the fact that people in the Tohoku region of Japan generally don’t talk too much about themselves.

As part of its efforts, the organisation hosted the Grassroots Women’s Academy in the city of Tamura, located in Fukushima Prefecture over three days from 5 August 2016.  The Grassroots Women’s Academy is a workshop that provides learning and networking opportunities for young women from the Tohoku region.

The workshop was inspired by an international forum for young female leaders from the Tohoku region and experienced female leaders from both Asia and Latin America, which was held in the town of Minamisanriku and was co-hosted by Women’s Eye and Huairou Commission, a NY-based international NGO in 2015. Since then, Women’s Eye has been meeting to learn from others, share their own experiences with others, and grow themselves.

At the workshop, under the theme of, “how to get people in communities involved in our activities” women from Tohoku’s three prefectures weighed in with their own opinions about the challenges that they are facing and learnt from each other over the three days that the workshop was held.

Leveraging their partnership with JEN, Women’s Eye aims to help women to utilize their capabilities and to play an active role by giving women rich opportunities for mutual learning and cooperation in addressing the specific challenges faced by women.

The pictures: ©Women's Eye

The members of Women's Eye consulting each other
The members of Women's Eye consulting each other
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Tohoku has been recovering slowly but surely
Tohoku has been recovering slowly but surely

Currently, JEN is working on partnership-based projects, in which we provide funding and technical support to its partners. The partners are local NPOs or organizations involving in support activities for marginalized people in disaster-affected areas.

In June 2016, JEN became with a partner of Fukushima Midwife Association and began supporting for “Comprehensive Pregnancy and Baby Support Project.” Midwives are experts in helping expectant mothers, nursing mothers, as well as their babies, both physically and mentally. Only people passed the national exam can work as midwives unless they already have nursing qualifications.

According to “the Survey on Expectant Mothers and Nursing Mothers” conducted by Fukushima Prefecture in 2014, 12 percent of those mothers in Fukushima suffered from postpartum depression, which was 3 percent higher than the national average. Frequent phone calls and consultation requests for help from the Midwife Association indicate that many mothers are concerned about both of their mental and health conditions or the mothers are isolated from the society causing absence of child care assistance.

After the earthquake, many families with young children left Fukushima to escape from the critical living conditions. Since those who chose to stay and to feel anxiety about the children’s health, Fukushima Prefecture implemented a policy which grants mothers and babies short stays at maternity centres. Besides being commissioned to perform this plan, the Fukushima Midwife Association is also conducting its own project of providing:

- Pre-prenatal classes;

- Places for nursing mothers to communicate with each other;

- Well balance meals for mothers and babies due to encouraging proper infant diets.

Five years have passed since the earthquake, yet this kind of mother and baby support projects are still little known to see across the nation. The projects will regularly carry on mothers and babies support among other local authorities in Fukushima Prefecture. Therefore, we will be supporting the Association on funding, presenting the project of the Association to the local authorities, and preparing necessary documents for policy promotion targeting other local governments, until December 2018.

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A photo shows Tohoku has been recovering
A photo shows Tohoku has been recovering

Currently, JEN is working on partnership-based projects, in which we provide funding and technical support to its partners. The partners are local NPOs or organizations involving in support activities for marginalized people in disaster-affected areas.

In June 2016, JEN became with a partner of Fukushima Midwife Association and began supporting for “Comprehensive Pregnancy and Baby Support Project.” Midwives are experts in helping expectant mothers, nursing mothers, as well as their babies, both physically and mentally. Only people passed the national exam can work as midwives unless they already have nursing qualifications.

According to “the Survey on Expectant Mothers and Nursing Mothers” conducted by Fukushima Prefecture in 2014, 12 percent of those mothers in Fukushima suffered from postpartum depression , which was 3 percent higher than the national average. Frequent phone calls and consultation requests for help from the Midwife Association indicate that many mothers are concerned about both of their mental and health conditions or the mothers are isolated from the society causing absence of child care assistance.

After the earthquake, many families with young children left Fukushima to escape from the critical living conditions. Since those who chose to stay and to feel anxiety about the children’s health, Fukushima Prefecture implemented a policy which grants mothers and babies short stays at maternity centres. Besides being commissioned to perform this plan, the Fukushima Midwife Association is also conducting its own project of providing:

- Pre-prenatal classes;

- Places for nursing mothers to communicate with each other;

- Well balance meals for mothers and babies due to encouraging proper infant diets.

Five years have passed since the earthquake, yet this kind of mother and baby support projects are still little known to see across the nation. The projects will regularly carry on mothers and babies support among other local authorities in Fukushima Prefecture. Therefore, we will be supporting the Association on funding, presenting the project of the Association to the local authorities, and preparing necessary documents for policy promotion targeting other local governments, until December 2018.

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Organization Information

Japan Emergency NGO (JEN)

Location: Tokyo, n/a - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @NGO_JEN
Project Leader:
Asuka Kuroki
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Japan
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