12.16.2013

Zambia: “Providing Medical Treatment under a Privacy-Protected Environment” - New Medical Facilities for HIV/AIDS Patients

The spread of AIDS is serious in Zambia. AIDS was believed to have been a fatal disease before, but nowadays antiretroviral (ARV) medicine is available, which can control the development and aggravation of the symptoms provided that the medicine is taken religiously everyday.  However, many HIV-positive people and AIDS patients discontinue taking ARV medicine for if they are unwilling to disclose their status to their neighbors, or they wait before going to hospital with the false understanding that they are still healthy. With the goal of encouraging such people to take their medicine appropriately, AAR Japan has been training volunteers for ART (antiretroviral therapy) support and establishing medical facilities in various communities.

At Mount Makulu Clinic and Nangongwe Clinic in Lusaka Province, AAR Japan built ART Centers, where patients in need of medical treatment through antiretroviral medicine can consult a specialist under the privacy-protected environment. Yuki SAKURAI of AAR Japan residing in Zambia since October, 2013 reports:

100 People Participated in the Handover Ceremony of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Centers
A ceremony to handover the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Centers to the Health Department of Zambia was held on November 8, in which about 100 persons participated, including officials of the government of Zambia, doctors and nurses of the clinic, ART Support Project volunteers who work with AAR Japan, as well as local media and people from the communities. The ceremony started with welcome remarks by Chilanga District Commissioner, Edith MUWANA, followed by a presentation by Hiromi KAWANO, County Director of AAR Japan in Zambia, who discussed the past 30 years of AAR Japan’s activities in Zambia and the current state of its ongoing programs. The ART Support Project volunteers who are actively engaged in the project at Mount Makulu and Nangongwe were introduced to the participants.

AAR Japan’s Country Director in Zambia, Hiromi KAWANO, reported its activities in Zambia to the participants. (November 8th, 2013)

12.06.2013

The Great East Japan Earthquake: Preview of the Latest Studio Ghibli Film "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" in Soma

On November 22nd 2013, Association for Aid and Relief (AAR Japan) and non-governmental organization, Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) held an advance screening of The Tale of Princess Kaguya, the latest film produced by Studio Ghibli Inc. at the City Welfare Center Hamanasu-kan (Soma, Fukushima) in cooperation with the distributors, Toho Co., Ltd. and Toho-Ad Co. Ltd.

People arrived 2 hours early to get in line for the preview of The Tale of Princess Kaguya. AAR staff Takeji ASANO (right) and Ekuko YOKOYAMA (second from left) check admission tickets. (Soma, Fukushima, November 22nd, 2013)

11.22.2013

Pakistan: An unexpected side to the tough-looking man revealed in the field

When AAR staff member Tomohiko MORITA was to conduct training on sanitation and hygiene to a group of difficult-looking men, he surprisingly found that it was their beaming smiles that calmed his nerves the most. This is Morita’s report from one of these training courses. AAR operates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, situated in the region of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan.

“Unimaginable”: Communication with the severe-looking men

What images come to mind when you think of a typical man from Afghanistan or Pakistan? Through the protracted conflict in Afghanistan and news about terrorist bombings by the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a cheerful face may not be the image you conjure up. Before I left for this post, I too was slightly anxious about what topics of conversation would best build rapport and understanding with the local people.

From December 2012, I began working in the AAR Pakistan office and have been providing educational support to the Afghani refugee children that live in and around the refugee camps. Along with maintaining the sanitation facilities in the classrooms, libraries, toilets and washrooms of the schools, we have been conducting training courses aimed at teachers and parents with the aim of having accurate hygiene information delivered from adults to the children. From April 2012 to September this year, 793 teachers and parents have participated in AAR’s sanitation training courses. 

The training courses are conducted over 4 days and are separated into courses for men and women. On the first day of a training course held in March, the group that gathered was made up of severe-looking men with magnificent beards. I had prepared a game of Chinese-whispers to allow the participants to realize the importance of communicating well-organized information, but was nervous about their willingness to even participate in a game

The unexpected reaction

However, as soon as the game began all the participants began to laugh and giggle and lean in closely to each other to pass on the secret messages. When the answers were revealed, the excitement in the small classroom had reached its peak and tenor cheers of “Yes!! That’s right!!” “No!! Totally wrong!!” vibrated throughout. The participants appeared to have genuinely enjoyed the game. I was surprised by the serious note taking and concentration that was displayed by participants, and the lively responses and raising of hands to AAR staff questions that was seen after the game.

Most of the participants of the training courses arrived to the camps as Afghani refugees and thus had not had the opportunity to learn at a school up until this point. The participants appeared to thoroughly enjoy the chance to gather together to learn something, just like in a class at school. The Afghani and Pakistani people I met turned my image of “a strict people with harsh faces” right on its head.

The men from the refugee camp enjoying a game of Chinese-whispers. A smile slips as the message is whispered into his ear. (26th March 2013)

11.13.2013

11.3 Million People Affected: AAR Japan Responds to Typhoon in the Philippines

Please support our cause to help those affected in Philippines

In response to Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) that struck the Philippines on November 8th, 2013, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) will deploy its staff members from Japan to carry out emergency assistance activities.

The typhoon, which caused massive flooding and landslides, has affected an estimated 11.3 million people all across the island nation, especially in areas around Leyte Island. It has been reported that as many as 10,000 people may have died in Tacloblan City alone, and more than 670,000 people have been forced to evacuate. These numbers are expected to increase through the subsequent surveys. Assistance is urgently needed including provision of water, food, medication, sanitary materials alternative shelters, and removal of debris (*source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: UNOCHA).

Zambia: Measures against HIV/AIDS “Don’t worry alone” AAR encourages HIV/AIDS patients to take medicine by cooperating with volunteers

AAR has been making comprehensive efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS infection since 2000 in Zambia by spreading proper knowledge, supporting children whose parents died of AIDS to go to school and providing care for HIV/AIDS patients. AAR reports about the ART (antiretroviral therapy) support, which we implement in the suburb of the capital city of Lusaka.

We wish more patients could live longer
Zambia, where more than 200 people die due to AIDS every day, is working on measures to combat HIV/AIDS. Recently, the treatment using “ARV”, the medicine for HIV, which slows down the progression of the disease, if taken properly everyday for the rest of patient’s life, has become common. However, among HIV/AIDS patients, many stop taking the drug due to various reasons. Some are afraid that their neighbors will know their status and thus hesitate to receive the drug in a clinic, while others procrastinate to visit a clinic, thinking “I am fine now.”

In response, AAR started training local volunteers who support patients to take ARV drugs since January 2013. 21 people were chosen from the area around a clinic, and received training for 23 days. The volunteers learned counseling skills such as how to make a friendly atmosphere that patients feel comfortable to talk, along with the basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS and ARV drugs.


The volunteers during the training. Their bright smiles and careful counseling support the patients. (April 10th, 2013)

11.01.2013

Evening Forum : Towards Banning Killer Robots [November 8th, 2013]

Do we want the future where 'Killer Robots' murder people?

The development of “Killer Robots”, which have the ability to reconnoiter, assess the situation, and attack people based on autonomous systems, has been in progress. If such robots are employed, it would be possible for them to attack their targets without the judgments of humans. Are we going to face a reality in the near future, where “Killer Robots” roam around battlefields and murder people?

As a member of the “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots,” AAR Japan will host an evening forum and invite Dr. Peter ASARO, Technical Expert of the Campaign, as a special speaker. This forum is open to anyone who is interested in this issue.

The launch meeting of ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ (April 2013). Pictured in the center in brown shirt is Mr. Peter ASARO, and on the right is Ms. Jody Williams, the winner of Nobel Peace Prize. (c) Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

10.24.2013

Laos: What Would You Do If UXO Accident Happens in Your Village?

In Laos, U.S. Forces dropped as many as two million tons of bombs during both the Vietnam War and the civil war in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Reportedly, approximately 30% of them have remained in Laos as unexploded ordnance (UXOs) that continue to cause accidents and deaths even today. Xieng Khuang Province located in the north of the country in particular is an accident-prone area. According to statistics from National regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR, in 2012, 31 persons are injured in this province alone, accounting for 55% of all the victims in Laos.
Below is a report from Noriko ANDO, who has been engaged in operations in Xieng Khuang Province.

A Nearby “VHV” is Better than a Far-off Hospital
The medical standard in Laos is not very high. In Xieng Khuang Province, one of the worst affected areas by UXOs, each district has only one hospital that is able to provide decent medical treatment for victims of UXOs. There are only four ambulances available in the whole province. To make matters worse, most of the roads are unpaved which prevents ambulances from reaching hospitals during the rainy season. Delayed medical treatment has resulted in higher numbers of UXO-related deaths as well as victims who sustain life-altering bodily injury. Some victims do not even have a   choice but to give up going to hospitals because of their inability to cover their medical fees.

“I would like to share what I have learned with villagers,” said Ms. Syvai, a VHV in Phounven Village with Noriko ANDO on the right.