AAR Japan initiated Tohoku aid and relief activities just after the day of the Great East Japan Earthquake, March 11th, 2011. Opening offices in Sendai City (Miyagi Prefecture), Morioka City (Iwate Prefecture), and Soma City (Fukushima Prefecture), we have been engaged in emergency and recovery assistance ever since.
In our aid activities, AAR Japan focuses on people who are likely to be left out of regular support action, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, evacuees staying in their own homes, and residents on isolated islands.
Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Activities
Apr. 1, 2014 - Dec. 31, 2014 (in JPY)
|Domestic and Overseas Donations, Overseas Grants||158,897,520|
|Supporting Market Expansion of Products Made by Persons with Disabilities||47,826,398|
|Health Promotion Activities||32,853,363|
|Installment and Provision of Playground Equipment||32,567,959|
|Building Healthy Communities Project||30,263,503|
|Reconstruction of Facilities for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities||10,157,665|
|Community Patrol in Fukushima||6,140,729|
|Transportation Service to Hospitals||4,714,590|
|Installation of Security Lights||4,713,073|
|Disaster Risk Reduction||3,055,819|
|Delivery of Relief Supplies (Food Items)||2,406,194|
Supporting the Livelihoods of Persons with Disabilities
Social welfare facilities creating bestselling products
Support for the development of new products
11 social welfare facilities in Fukushima Prefecture made collaborative efforts to develop a new sweet snack. With the help of AAR Japan, Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. and other partners' support, the social welfare facilities jointly created the “Magic Cookie, Polvoron”. AAR Japan provided cooking tools and supported marketing and PR, and Nisshin Seifun Group taught them how to make cookies.
7 social welfare facilities developed a new line of products for the Sendai Classic Festival, held in October, 2014, after participating in workshops on product development with the support of AAR Japan. The series was named “Hachipuonpu” (quaver) and was designed as incorporating forms of music notes and musical instruments. The products were sold at the festival and were very popular among music players.
Provision of equipment for businesses
AAR Japan assisted 13 social welfare facilities for PWDs by installing the necessary equipment for their business enterprises such as sewing machines, cooking tools, and generators. We installed a large freezer at Yamada Kyousei Sagyosho in Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture, which secured a consistent production and sales of local seafood products. We also provided stepladders for harvesting apples to@ Katatsumuri facility in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, enabling PWDs to engage in outdoor harvesting work. Cultivation and sales of local products also have positive social effects, revitalizing local communities.
Supporting bento box/café businesses
In order for social welfare facilities that engage in restaurant businesses, either making and selling bento (lunch boxes) or managing cafés, to come up with attractive menus, AAR Japan provided support for menu development and organized cooking classes with culinary expert Ms. Chinami Hamauchi. 3 social welfare facilities from Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures took part in the project. The combined efforts of the facilities, applying their own ingenuity to the dishes, and Ms. Hamauchi, providing techniques in bringing out the natural flavors of ingredients, resulted in the creation of new, original menus. One of the participants commented, “We have lost a lot due to the 3.11 disaster. However, we have also gained opportunities to meet a lot of wonderful people like Ms. Hamauchi, whom we would have otherwise never met. Through the sale of bento boxes, we would like to spread the success and endeavors of social welfare facilities in Fukushima Prefecture to the general public.”
Introducing products made by social welfare facilities
AAR Japan held 21 events, in both the Tokyo and Tohoku regions, in which we sold various products made by social welfare facilities. A number of private companies extended a helping hand by offering venues for the sales.
Assistance for social welfare facilities to resume their services and activities
AAR Japan set up library spaces at 16 social welfare facilities for children with disabilities in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures. One of the facility staff members said that children’s psychological conditions have become more stable since the installment of the library space, where the kids can read books freely and independently.
We also provided a total of 2,571 picture books, which were generously donated by Gin no Suzu Co., Ltd. to 27 social welfare facilities for children with disabilities and childcare facilities in three disaster-stricken prefectures. Furthermore, AAR Japan provided assistive vehicles needed for the transportation of facility users to 2 facilities, as well as equipment for administrative duties to 2 facilities.
Promoting healthy living with physical and mental wellbeing
Promoting a healthy living (Building Healthy Communities Project)
Rehabilitation and counselling
With the help of occupational therapists and physiotherapists, we conducted massage and calisthenics sessions a total of 49 times. This activity has become very popular among those who are prone to lack of exercise due to the living in temporary housing complexes. At the same time, counselors visit and conduct active listening sessions, which alleviate the evacuees’stress from life in temporary housing complexes.
Hosting of community interaction events
We conducted a total of 21 events, including folk music concerts and workshops for making aromatic soap at assembly halls in temporary housing complexes. Through such events, participants were able to refresh their mentalities and make new friends.
Supporting social events organized by local communities
AAR Japan encourages initiatives of local groups and people to organize social events in various communities within the Tohoku region. In Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, we assisted events hosted by a local organization, Kesennuma Volunteer Station, which held 12 events, attracting 324 people in total. In addition, Yamada Kyoseikai in Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture, held 151 events, including traditional tea ceremonies and Karaoke sessions. We also supported Kadappeshi in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, in holding 47 social meeting sessions.
Economy class syndrome prevention
In cooperation with the Morioka City's municipal office and Morioka municipal hospital, AAR Japan has implemented activities to promote the health of people living in the coastal area of Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures. People living in cramped spaces of the temporary housing complexes are prone to suffer from lack of exercise that could lead to “economy class syndrome”. Thus, medical teams made visits to temporary housing complexes to conduct prevention screening, reaching out to a total of 1,022 people. Additionally, we supplied medical equipment necessary for medical check-ups.
Growing vegetables in gardens
At 13 temporary housing complexes, AAR Japan assisted the installation of large planters for vegetable gardening. We also held various events such as “Nagashi Somen” and harvest festivals, which provided the participants with opportunities to meet and socialize. One of the participants said, “the gardening activities remind me of the time when I used to work in the fields, and they help me feel refreshed”. The gardening activities also contributed to make communication among participants livelier and the activities helped tackle health issues arisen from the lack of exercise among the residents. In general, activities in temporary housing complexes tend to attract more female participants, leaving male residents isolated at home. However, the gardening activities successfully attracted many male participants.
Playground for children (Building Healthy Communication Project)
Nishi-Aizu Waku-Waku Kids' School
We organized Nishi-Aizu Waku-Waku Kids’ School four times for children who cannot freely play outside because of the radioactive contamination along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. This is an overnight event where we provide children and their guardians with the opportunity to play without worry in Nishi-Aizu City, which is located in the western part of the prefecture, far from the coast. One parent said, “it was my son's first time playing in snow, and he was so excited. We, as parents, also enjoyed this event very much. We are very grateful for such long-term support.”
For safe living
Installation of security lighting
AAR Japan installed 128 security street lights in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, as well as in Ishinomaki City and Iwanuma City, Miyagi Prefecture. As many people have been relocated to new residential areas created by the governmental reconstruction programs, the security lights are appreciated by the new residents because the lights make them feel safer when going out in their unaccustomed neighborhoods during nighttime. (Joint project with Support21 Social Welfare Foundation)
Side by side with people in Fukushima
AAR Japan conducted night patrol and active listening activities in the Soso area in Fukushima Prefecture in cooperation with Miraito, an NPO in Shinchi Town, Fukushima Prefecture
Safe water to children
AAR Japan delivers drinking water to 4 kindergartens and fruits for lunch meals to 1 kindergarten in Fukushima Prefecture. Water is also used for making milk for babies.
Transportation services for medical visits
In Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture, the elderly residents face great difficulty in accessing hospitals as the main hospital is located far from the town center. The heavy traffic, caused by recent reconstruction works, has also made it increasingly difficult for them to go out. In response, AAR Japan has provided the elderly residents with transportation services for hospital/clinic visits a total of 1,348 times to ensure safe access to medical facilities in cooperation with a local organization called Yamada Kyosei Sagyosho.
Restoration of local festivals
Up until 2011, local residents in Yoshihama area in Ishinomaki City, Iwate Prefecture, carried on the tradition of “Mikoshi Togyo”, a traditional festival original to the Kumano shrine, in which young people parade with portable shrines throughout the community. However, the community had been unable to hold the festival due to depopulation and declining birthrates. Before the Great East Japan Earthquake, 56 families lived in the Yoshihama area but the devastation caused by the tsunami further accelerated the depopulation. On April 27th, 2014, the festival was restored with AAR Japan supporting the repair of the portable shrines. A woman at the festival, who had left the community after the earthquake, shed tears of happiness, saying, “I cannot believe I am seeing Mikoshi Togyo again in Yoshihama”.
Disaster Risk Reduction for Future Disasters
Living in evacuation centers for PWDs
AAR Japan conducted evacuation drills on July 26th and November 10th, 2014, in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, in which participants experienced living in an evacuation center. Many PWDs participated, learning registration procedures at the center and how to navigate the center in wheelchairs.
In addition, AAR Japan distributed 254 emergency kits to 11 social welfare facilities for PWDs in Fukushima Prefecture.