Vanuatu/ Cyclone Pam: Two Weeks since Cyclone Pam – Distributing Emergency Relief Goods

Provision of clean clothes to the disaster victims 

Association of Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan, which has headquarters in Tokyo, and is led by President Yukiko OSA) has dispatched Fukuro KAKIZAWA to Vanuatu, which was hit by Cyclone Pam on March 13th, 2015. He is engaging in emergency relief activities for the disaster victims. AAR Japan distributed clothes to Takara Village, on the east side of Efate Island, on March 26th, 2015. The distribution was decided upon the thorough assessment on Efate Island, where the capital is located, and on Tanna Island, which was devastated. Coordination meetings with other humanitarian agencies from all over the world, including the United Nations, also contributed to the decision.

A mother and daughter from an affected family smile as they receive a bag full of clothes. Fukuro KAKIZAWA of AAR Japan. (Right) (Efate Island, Vanuatu, March 26th, 2015)
There are approximately 300 residents in Takara Village. The village does not have any shelterbelts, so it was severely affected by strong winds. Many houses were completely destroyed. The wind also blew away clothes, forcing parents to dress their children in scavenged clothes that were washed in seawater. It was clear that the victims were living in conditions of poor hygiene. In the meantime, humanitarian responders were reaching out to the affected islands. A dire need for food and construction materials was apparent at first, but governmental and other humanitarian agencies had decided on large scale distributions. Under such circumstances, AAR Japan decided to distribute clothes such as T-shirts and skirts for both children and adults to 56 families (approximately 280 people) in Takara Village, whose houses were completely destroyed.

Vanuatu consists of 83 islands, and ferry services to remote islets have been resumed.   Accordingly, the details of the disaster’s impact have been getting clearer. AAR Japan will continue to collect information and provide relief assistance.

Fukuro KAKIZAWA, AAR Tokyo Office 
KAKIZAWA has been in charge of Afghanistan and Pakistan operations at AAR Japan Tokyo Headquarters from May 2013. He also engaged in emergency assistance for Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013. He is 34 years old.
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Japanese-English translation by Ms. Keiko Machida
English editing by Ms. Mariah Gomes

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Japan's Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.


Pakistan: No Desks, No Chairs, No Toilets! Improving the School Environment

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province located in the northwestern part of Pakistan, shares an international border with Afghanistan. This province has more than 50 camps that house as many as 1.5 million refugees who fled from neighboring Afghanistan, which has been plagued by political instability for more than three decades. Since May 2011, AAR Japan has carried out activities to renovate and reconstruct primary school buildings, and to raise public hygiene awareness in three refugee camps and the surrounding villages in Nowshera District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Fukuro KAKIZAWA, from our Tokyo Office, reports.

Remote primary schools lacking even bare essentials

Villages in Khairabad, Nowshera District, are situated in hilly areas at locations some distance from the main town center. There is no road access to the villages, compelling any visitors to drive up a dried-up riverbed.
A dried-up riverbed, the only access to villages in the Khairabad area. The villages are about two and a half hours’ drive from the capital Islamabad where the AAR Japan Office is located. (June 2014)


Report of Photo Exhibition "Women in Mine Action: Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty"

Women working in mine action all over the world

Fifteen years have elapsed since “the Mine Ban Treaty” (the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction) came into effect in 1999. AAR Japan, a member organization of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), contributed to the formulation of the treaty; it held a photo exhibition between December 17th and 19th, 2014 at the Kensei Kinenkan in Tokyo, showing the current situation of mine action in countries like Afghanistan and Sudan, which are contaminated with landmines, as well as efforts to deal with mine issues by Japan and other international communities.

One of the photo panels provided by AAR: Afghan girls watching a movie about mine/UXO (unexploded ordnances) issues and support for mine victims (Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2013)


Philippines: One Year On After Typhoon Yolanda - Assisting Persons with Disabilities

On November 8th, 2013, a super typhoon (in Filipino, Typhoon Yolanda), the 30th named storm of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season, made landfall in the central region of the Philippines. Immediately after the typhoon struck, AAR Japan sent support by distributing relief goods and repairing homes in the most devastated areas of Northern Cebu, and in Tacloban City and Palo Town on the island of Leyte. While carrying out our emergency relief activities, we gave particular attention to assisting persons with disabilities (PWDs) - in which we have accumulated extensive experience in other countries. AAR continued providing aid until the end of October, 2014.

Pursuing the kind of aid only AAR could give

After the typhoon struck, there was no survey carried out to confirm the safety or conditions of PWDs in the above target areas. At that point, AAR stepped in, going door-to-door and documenting where PWDs lived and what kind of disabilities they had to ensure that nobody was left out from receiving emergency relief. In total, we collected information from 5,687 PWDs, and submitted the compiled data to local government units. In addition, AAR provided food and other relief goods to households with PWDs. During the goods distribution and door-to-door survey, we discovered that many PWDs in the target areas had lost their wheelchairs - their only means of transportation - due to the typhoon and tsunami. Moreover, governmental support for PWDs is still insufficient in the Philippines, and discrimination is a very real issue. As a result, PWDs are more likely to seclude themselves in their homes.

Providing tailored “legs”

In response to the plight that PWDs faced in the Philippines after the typhoon, AAR provided 40 wheelchairs and 27 walkers to PWDs with mobility difficulties in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte. To the PWDs, these wheelchairs and walkers are their “legs”. Therefore, it was essential to ensure that the type and size fitted each individual. Together with a Filipino wheelchair specialist organization, AAR had a “measuring session” to measure the length of each individual’s legs and assess their balance and posture. A “fitting session” followed, in which we adjusted the wheelchairs and had PWDs practice using them. Once we ensured the adjustments and correct usage, the wheelchairs were distributed. Afterwards, AAR continued to provide comprehensive support by conducting “follow-ups” to check if any of PWDs were having difficulties using their wheelchairs.

At the “measuring session”. In order to provide wheelchairs that fit each individual perfectly, we measured the legs of the PWDs one by one. (May 24th, 2014, Palo)


Sudan: Protecting Those Living in Mine-Affected Areas

Overcoming the conflicts and restoring hope

In Sudan, a peace agreement was reached in 2005, putting an end to the 21-year civil war between the north and the south. In 2006, AAR Japan started mine risk education.

When I visited a village called Shalalob to conduct a survey, I met a woman who was unable to take her child to a hospital due to a lack of money and a lack of access to a car. When she asked why we came to the village, we explained about mine risk education. She responded, “How come you are so eager to save our lives? Tell me where landmines are. I want to step on a landmine to put an end to my miserable life.”

The AAR team was shocked to hear her words. I realized that the lingering civil war had not only left landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) in Sudan, but also left the local people in poverty, despair, and sorrow.

One of our local staff, Amaeim (center), explains what landmines look like and where they are likely to be found by showing a poster. 


Afghanistan: Enabling Children with Disabilities to Go to School

Providing activities to deepen people’s understanding of disabilities together with improvements of various school facilities

In Afghanistan, which has been suffering continuous conflicts for years, there are a lot of people living with disabilities due to damage caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs). AAR has been spreading the knowledge on how to protect themselves from landmines and UXOs to villagers and school children, while providing support to victims and persons with disabilities.

AAR has installed ramps and constructed accessible lavatories to make it easier for children with disabilities to attend school in Khwowaja Sayaran Public School and Sediqi Public School in Parwan Prefecture.

Nangaray (19), who is visually impaired, is delighted with the newly-installed ramp, which made it much easier for to come to school. With Tamin (right), AAR’s local staff member (September 11th, 2014)


Uganda: Helping Landmine Victims Become Self-Reliant

In Uganda, located in Central Africa, there is still a massive amount of remaining landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as a result of the 40 year civil war. AAR Japan has assisted landmine victims since 2009 in cooperation with the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA). Today, in Yumbe District in North Uganda, where there remains a serious issue of mine pollution, we offer assistance to 25 victims to start high-demand businesses such as general stores and beekeeping. We also provide them with guidance about business management. The following is the report from Margaret Arach ORECH, the Director of ULSA.

Supporting small businesses of landmine and UXO victims

Ms. Amina CHADIRU (age 35) stepped on a landmine and lost her left leg when she went to collect edible termites in July, 1997. After the accident, she was unable to have a stable job and did not have enough income to support herself. However, since she has started selling secondhand clothes with the support from AAR and ULSA , her income has increased. “My store has become well known in this area and now, I am able to send my six kids to school”, she said with delight.

Ms. CHADIRU lost her left leg in a landmine accident. A bicycle and old clothes were provided to her to start a business (May 13th, 2014).