Kumamoto Earthquakes: Rebuilding social welfare centers

 Nowhere to go but to half-collapsed welfare centers

Since April 15th, the day after the earthquakes rocked Kumamoto prefecture, AAR Japan’s emergency response team has been delivering aid. At the moment, the emergency response team is visiting remote welfare centers to listen to the needs of survivors, distribute much-needed aid products, and support the rebuilding of facilities.
Soyokaze Welfare Center, a center for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the town of Mashiki, was severely damaged by the earthquake. The ground remains cracked open and the landlord ordered Soyokaze to clear the area, so it is required to move to new premises. Many of Soyokaze Welfare Center employees and users have been affected by the earthquake and relocated to evacuation centers. Persons with mental or psychological disabilities struggle to adapt to communal living at evacuation centers and therefore take shelter in tents pitched in gardens or half-collapsed homes. Some Soyokaze Welfare Center employees continue to take shelter in automobile vehicles. On May 4th, AAR Japan delivered 4 boxes of disinfectant spray, 4 boxes of refills for disinfectant spray, 4 boxes of disinfectant sprays for hands, and 4 boxes of refills of disinfectant sprays for hands donated by Office Dewi Sukarno; and 5 massage machines donated by CATALOGHOUSE Ltd. “Our bodies have become tense from spending many days living in our cars. These massage machines help alleviate the pain,” survivors said.

“These massage machines help alleviate the pain from spending many days living in cars,” survivors of
Soyokaze Welfare Center said. Takumi Takagi (AAR Japan staff, Right) (May 4th, 2016)

Soyokaze Welfare Center severely damaged by the earthquake.
 The ground remains cracked open and the landlord ordered all persons to clear the area. (May 3rd, 2016)
The tori gate of the shrine behind the Soyokaze Welfare Center toppled over. (May 3rd, 2016)

 Hopes for the future

Nishihara Tampopo House, an NPO in the village of Nishihara of the Aso District, has also been hard-hit by the earthquakes. Although there are no evident signs of damage on the exterior of the building, the building’s pillars and walls have been damaged and the entire structure shakes every time a car passes by. Despite the risks of living in these conditions, there is no other place that survivors can move to. These survivors have no choice but to spend days and nights at Nishihara Tampopo House. When AAR Japan first visited the welfare center on April 29th, Ms. Uemura (director of the Nishihara Tampopo House) looked lost and disheartened. After several rounds of visitations by AAR Japan and discussions, plans to rebuild the welfare center began to crystalize. “At first we were not optimistic. Now that reconstruction plans are becoming concrete, we are hopeful for the future,” said survivors.

AAR Japan staff Chiaki Furukawa (Right) visits the planed reconstruction site
for Nishihara Tampopo House. (May 14th, 2016)

Since Nishihara Tampopo House was established 10 years ago, it has played a critical role in welcoming many persons with mental and psychological disabilities and economically disadvantaged persons. AAR Japan commits to supporting rebuilding efforts until the welfare center’s original capabilities are restored.
Public funding is provided to social welfare organizations to rebuild and repair their facilities affected by the earthquakes. However, only facilities which are registered as social welfare corporation to prefectural and city governments can receive immediate funding or will receive funding to rebuild the facilities several years later. AAR Japan continues to visit and support facilities that have difficulty receive funding such as Nishihara Tampopo House.

AAR Japan remains committed to supporting those affected by the Kumamoto earthquake.
Please donate and help us continue to the support the people of Kumamoto.

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