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
Beach cleansing operation in Shirahama.
Beach cleansing operation in Shirahama.

Project

Relief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake. 

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.

Activities during July, August & September

[Community Reconstruction]

JEN has continued to engage in Community Reconstruction primarily through the establishment of numerous centers of psycho-social care and interaction called “Community Spaces”.  Two recent additions to JEN’s growing catalogue of completed spaces include “Hama-yu”, a pre-fab hut by the sea in Sasunohama village, and Koganehama Community Hall.  Both function as platforms for social events that benefit the local community, as well as JEN’s base of operations for its various activities in the area, such as providing fishermen with fishing equipment and local communities with voluntary services.

As expressed by a participant at the inauguration ceremony of Hama-yu, the importance of such centers of social interaction cannot be understated in that there is a crucial need for communal spaces in which not only the long-term residents but also temporary evacuees and former inhabitants can mingle and strengthen relations.  A similar sentiment was reiterated during a cooking event held after a disaster drill at a community hall, in which the general principles behind the selection process of temporary housing schemes were revealed to have been based on lottery and the avoidance of areas affected by the tsunami.  Consequently, residents from different regions or hometowns became neighbors, and a need to cast aside background differences arose, as well as for the presence of shared spaces in which social interaction could be encouraged through workshops and other communal events, exemplified by the festival which took place in July in the fully renovated Koganehama Hall. Besides events initiated and organized by JEN, its staff and dispatched team of volunteers have participated in a handful of seasonal festivals, as well as commemorative events such as the Buddhist rites which took place at the opening of Ishinomaki port to pray for the repose of victims’ souls, in order to strengthen the already considerable bond it has fashioned with local communities.

[Mudbusters are turning into…]

Whilst JEN continues to recruit volunteers from the public, it has so far succeeded in dispatching over 4000 participants to sludge and debris removal operations.  In recent months, we have also noticed a shift in emphasis from “emergency relief” type operations, such as the above, to “reconstruction assistance”, which focuses on social and economic rehabilitation, through the planned revitalization of key local industries.  An example typifying both types of pursuits can be identified in the beach cleaning operation which took place at Shirahama, Jyusanhama District, on August 18th, 19th, 28th and 29th, conducted with the mid-term goal of the eventual reopening of the former bathing resort in sight.  Amongst the 20 volunteers who joined us in cleaning up the beach every day was the large presence of junior high and high school students from all over the country. 

In the hope of attracting visitors and contributing to the local economy, the Kitakami general branch office of municipal government have announced plans to erect an 8.4 meters high levee in January 2014, prior to reopening the beach, which formerly drew in over ten thousand beach-goers per year.

[Income Generation]

In disaster-struck communities with severely debilitated economies, income generation is arguably the most crucial factor in “reconstruction assistance”.  In the case of Ishinomkai and its environs, this has chiefly taken on the form of fishery reconstruction, the area’s primary means of economy.  As most harbour facilities and fishing equipment were devastated or swept away by the tsunami, the initial steps towards the recovery of the fishing industry are to supply the fishermen with necessary tools of their trade. 
Working under the auspices of the Japan Fishery Cooperative Association, JEN has continued to provide fishery support in ten coastal areas, including a job creation project initiated in the four coasts of Omotehama, Higashihama, Urahama and Ishinomaki, distributing material required for the production of fishing nets, which are in turn manufactured by the local fishermen themselves.  Such nets are but one amongst a growing list of equipment supplied by JEN to the local fishery, including skytanks, a forklift truck, palettes, a kelp cropping machine, plastic catch containers as well as the latest addition, a “dou”- a special trap to catch the congers that are in season now.
Another note-worthy contribution is the construction of prefabricated “Banya”s, or a fisherman’s lodge in the local vernacular, the first of which was constructed in Momoura, where 16 fishermen, living far from their workplaces in temporary or rented private houses, are attempting to recover the area’s coastal fishing, including some who commute eighty kilometers from Sendai city.  The Banya will allow the fishermen to conduct a portion of their work and rest indoors, making a welcome change from previous conditions, especially in the adverse climates of summer and winter.  Installation of Banya is scheduled to take place at five other locations.

JEN is committed to supporting the efforts of afflicted people to achieve self-reliance, and continues to recruit volunteers for its multifarious activities.

Installing "Hama-Yu" at Sasunohama village
Installing "Hama-Yu" at Sasunohama village
Distribution of the material for fish-net.
Distribution of the material for fish-net.
Communal meal following a disaster drill.
Communal meal following a disaster drill.

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School Sports Day organized by JEN
School Sports Day organized by JEN

Project

Relief & Re-establishment activities for those affected by the Tohoku Pacific Area Earthquake

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages

Activities during May & June 2012

[Community Space]

Community Reconstruction and assistance has been conducted mainly through the establishing of “Community Spaces”, which offer psychological support and a wide variety of social activities.  Recent examples of the latter have taken forms such as yoga classes, hand massages, and make-up lessons in locations such as HANA House, a community café in the Kitsuma-Minami district.  HANA House is one of the three community cafes that were run by local inhabitants by the end of 2011.  JEN strongly believes that communities can be rebuilt through the cooperation and participation of supporters and locals in such centers of interaction, by providing platforms for social events, as well as psycho-emotional care.

Other noteworthy events organized by JEN for the purposes of community reconstruction during the months of May and June have included a sports meeting for primary school and kindergarten children, and a kimono sewing event in preparation for the approaching summer festival season, for which such costumes are traditionally worn.  JEN will continue to initiate community reconstruction by organizing interactive events in centers of psycho-social assistance.

[Mudbusters are turning into…]

JEN has been continuing to recruit volunteers from the public, and its volunteer dispatch program has succeeded in coordinating over 4000 participants in cleaning operations of sludge and debris.  These activities have begun to shift in emphasis from ‘emergency relief’ work involving manual labor such as the transporting of supplies to temporary housing from the JEN volunteer dispatch program, to ‘reconstruction assistance’ which focuses on the revitalization of the fishery industry and supporting the daily lives of people living in temporary housing.  The latter is typified by projects such as the training program conducted by the 184 new recruits of the Ricoh Company, Ltd. in June. This crew was divided into three groups and worked on creating sandbags, scraping holdfasts off kelps, and sorting kelps and seaweed.  These sandbags can be utilized effectively in almost all aquaculture facilities, and thus are of great value to local fishery, which JEN recognised as the economic backbone of the community.  The goal on this particular occasion was to produce 8000 sandbags, but the new recruits managed to exceed this goal substantially by 1,622 bags.

[Income Generation]

Restoration of livelihood is a crucial necessity in Ishinomaki city and its surrounding villages.  JEN have been engaged in a variety of fishery support activities in Ishinomaki city since last year, in order to facilitate the recovery of its primary means of economy.  Currently, there is a critical lack of equipment crucial to those engaging in coastal fishing activities in fisheries.  Since February, JEN have been able to supply skytanks, a forklift truck, palettes, a kelp cropping machine and plastic catches containers to ten fisheries afflicted by the tsunami.

Another job creation project JEN has initiated in attempting to revive the fishery industry has been its supplying of fishing nets specifically for mantis fishing, which suffered greatly due to almost all of the said nets having been swept away by the tsunami.  Such nets have been in short supply and hence the fishermen have had serious difficulties regenerating one of their main means of livelihood.  JEN has established a system in which locals are taught how to manufacture the nets, which are in turn bought by JEN and provided to the fishermen through the Fisheries Cooperative Association.  JEN believes establishing such productive cycles is one of the most sustainable approaches in contributing towards long-term solutions of the local industry, in that it benefits not just the fishermen but also those who produce the nets.  Furthermore, this technology and skill can in turn be passed down through generations thereby promoting future commerce as well as intergenerational exchange.

The Fishermen with their new skytanks
The Fishermen with their new skytanks
Sewing Kimonos at a Community Cafe
Sewing Kimonos at a Community Cafe
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JEN staff visits with a woman in temporary housing
JEN staff visits with a woman in temporary housing

On April 6, Japan Emergency NGOs (JEN) invited me on a visit with their staff to see some of the communities they are working with in the Tohoku region, where last year’s earthquake and tsunami devastated hundreds of miles of coastline and towns.  I came to JEN’s local field office in Ishinomaki and met with three of their staff: Taku Kawada, Hiroyuki Kogure, and Tetsuo Kimura.  We started the day with an overview of the work that JEN has carried out over the past year – from food distribution and rubble removal early on, to longer-term efforts to rebuild communities more recently.  JEN is currently working in 13 of the most hard-to-reach temporary housing compounds in the Ishinomaki area.  This means not just the JEN choose to work in areas hard-hit by last year’s disaster, but that JEN goes out of their way to find and assist the communities furthest away from other services.

This certainly seemed the case during the rest of our site visit.  At about 10am, we piled into the car and drove out of the city to Oshika Peninsula, where about 2,000 people now live.  We continued driving until the road turned into a dirt path.  We passed oyster beds and fishing boats, in town after town we saw the destruction the tsunami left in its wake.  We finally arrived at one of the temporary shelter homes, where we saw container after container filled with families who had lost their homes last year.  We went into the community

Throughout the rest of the day I saw a lot of other projects JEN is running in the Ishinomaki area – from children’s centers to fishing projects.  It’s clear that the work their doing is needed and appreciated by the community.  Perhaps the most impressive thing, however, was not the work that is being done, but rather the plans the JEN staff continue to develop to further their work in these communities –and the passion in which they execute those plans.

During my visit we talked about the need for further psycho-social support for survivors of this disaster, as well as innovative ideas to re-start businesses in the region.  JEN is continuing to raise funds for their efforts in Tohoku and plan to stay in the area for several years to come.  Seeing the work that JEN is carrying out, and talking to the people affected by donations like yours, made me was proud to be a GlobalGiver!

One temporary housing compound where JEN works
One temporary housing compound where JEN works
JEN helps fishermen make new nets
JEN helps fishermen make new nets
Kids at a community center supported by JEN
Kids at a community center supported by JEN
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Orientation for volunteers
Orientation for volunteers

Project

Relief & Re-establishment activities for those affected by the Tohoku Pacific Area Earthquake

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages

Activities during September, October & November 2011

[Distribution of daily goods to temporary shelters completed, yet…]

In the end, completed daily goods distribution consists of 70items to 6,800 temporary shelters (originally planned for 7,000) at the end of September. Then, JEN start preparing to distribute air-conditioning devices for the coming winter, allocated for the people who decides NOT to take temporary shelters, but live in the rented (by the government) houses. This situation occurred due to the lack of land for temporary shelters and the kind “choice” given by the local government.

 [Community Space]

Formally acted as “Soup Kitchen”, 3 soup kitchens had turned into “Community Space” since the end of July to maximize the strength of the revitalization of the communities and to respect their motivation to keep the physically and mentally damaged communities. In July, before the soup kitchen close, the residents who benefited had been acting with a sign of being “self-reliant”. Therefore, JEN gained the confidence of let themselves run the spaces. Soon after “Community Space” starts functioning, many variety of activities were installed; such as Hand craft class, Play class (for kids), Choreography class and legal consultation. These 3 spaces are acting as the roll model for next 15 spaces which JEN is planning to install at the temporary shelters.

JEN is planning to open more than 15 community spaces by the end of this year as part of their unique psycho-social care assistance. They will be installed at the temporary shelters. As of October, tea party at 5 compounds (our of 131 in Ishinomaki) have been organized by JEN so far. More to come in year 2012.

 

[Mud busters are transforming into…]

JEN continues to coordinate volunteer activities in wider community.  To date almost 4,000 JEN volunteers contributed to clean both public and private properties. In addition to that, JEN start supporting fishermen who works for fish production industry who were forced to stop their business, for nearly 7months, due to 1)shortage of tools – wiped away by Tsunami, 2) human resources – need to catch up. The former is supported financially by JEN and the latter is supported by volunteers who give hands. This indicates that JEN is reaching the remote area of Ishinomaki, where were abandoned by delivering the support for months. Aiming to establish the good relationship with locals for both physical and psycho- social recovery. This is essential to avoid the depopulation as the remote area were suffering from it even before the disaster hit the area.

It is also the beginning of the livelihood support, direct to the affected fishermen in Ishinomaki.

JEN continue to seek for volunteer from general public.

 

 [Income Generation]

Not only for fishermen, JEN supports local logistic companies who lost their business tools – vehicle. They are very important for the main industry of Ishinomaki; “Fishery Supply Chain industry” to begin with. Not only their presence in the city encourages affected people as a sign of recovery, but the owners agreed on the condition raised by JEN that they have to engage with social contribution regularly. Sometimes, they help to deliver the debris collected by JEN volunteers to the garbage collection point, another time, they deliver some material for public spaces. JEN continues to support them till the market value of the vehicle goes down, means that the owners could afford to own them by themselves.

Delivering NFI to Temporary Shelters
Delivering NFI to Temporary Shelters
Tea Party, at temporary shelters
Tea Party, at temporary shelters

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Cleaning and restoration of a local graveyard
Cleaning and restoration of a local graveyard

Project

Relief & Re-establishment activities for those affected by the Tohoku Pacific Area Earthquake

Target Area

Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages

Activities during June, July & August 2011

[Distribution of daily goods to temporary shelters]

Almost 7,000 temporary shelters have now been built for local residents who lost their homes in the Tsunami. JEN support this activity by distributing around 50 items, including bedding, clothing, kitchenware, hygiene materials etc. to each temporary home.

 [Community Space]

As local residents move to transitional shelters or where they prefer and it is possible, back to the upper floors of their partially destroyed homes, the soup kitchens have become required less and JEN closed their Ishinomaki soup kitchen in July. To ensure that people can still gather for social activities and to help promote a community environment, 3 Community Spaces have been established. JEN has initiated some activities and seeks community input for ideas and organization going forward. Activities which JEN have organized to date, include, tea parties, yoga, massages, iPad sessions and a homework group. Volunteers assist with these activities giving their time and sometimes their expertise to support the delivery of a successful session.

JEN is planning to open more than 10 community spaces by the end of this year as part of their unique psycho-social care assistance.

[Mud busters continue]

JEN continues to coordinate volunteer activities in wider community, cleaning houses, streams and ditches, of debris and sludge. To date around 200 homes have been cleaned and many ditches cleared with almost 3000 JEN volunteers. A professional contractor volunteered his natural enzyme product and time to spray areas after sludge removal to help prevent the build-up of flies and mosquitos.

Some volunteers travel to the area for the day, or a few days, whilst others may stay longer, or return for more than one visit – coming from all over Japan as well as travelling from far away countries such as England, to lend their support. Everyone’s assistance is appreciated, “Thank you from the people of Ishinomaki and from JEN”, and volunteers are still very much needed …. please.

[Income Generation]

JEN has engaged with the wider community to understand that a need for assistance is required for some of the smaller fishing village areas, to support them in re-establishing their livelihoods. Volunteers have consequently been performing activities such as assistance with Oyster farming, fish-cake factory restoration, fishing net preparations and of course with ditch cleaning.

Volunteers assist local Oyster farmers
Volunteers assist local Oyster farmers
Items distributed to each transitional shelter.
Items distributed to each transitional shelter.
Ladies enjoy a tea party at a Community Space
Ladies enjoy a tea party at a Community Space
Debris removal from a stream
Debris removal from a stream
Stream clearing - many hands make light work!
Stream clearing - many hands make light work!

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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
$69,763 raised of $100,000 goal
 
304 donations
$30,237 to go
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