Japan: Baseball Lessons and Aromatherapy Cheer Survivors

AAR JAPAN has been carrying out the Building Healthy Communities Project, providing mobile clinics, sanitation services, psychological care, and community interaction and exchange events such as soup kitchens and massage services in the disaster-affected areas of Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures.

The following is a report on our activities in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.

Baseball Lessons with Retired Professional Players 
On August 18th, AAR JAPAN held a community interaction and exchange event in Ishinomaki City, where a women’s group supporting the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles organized baseball lessons in the schoolyard at Higashihama Elementary School.

Mr. Daisuke MASUDA and Mr. Katsumi YAMASHITA, retired players who are now junior coaches with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, offered baseball lessons for the students and teachers of Higashihama Elementary School and survivors of the March 11th disaster who are still living in the school and its surroundings.

People practiced playing catch and batting, and everyone was excited to be taught enjoyable lessons by pro-level players.

Wearing Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles jerseys, students and parents play baseball with the principal of Higashihama Elementary School, Mr. KAKUDA (right).

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles junior coaches, Mr. Daisuke MASUDA (right) and Mr. Katsumi YAMASHITA (left), along with Shinichiro OHARA of AAR JAPAN’s Sendai office.

We also organized a soup kitchen and provided steak and fried noodles for 150 people, including both the lesson participants and people staying at the evacuation center in the Futsukiura area of Ishinomaki City. People working to remove disaster debris also came out during their lunch break, happily commenting that eating steak made them feel energized.  

“Please eat lots!” Tsutomu KATO, AAR JAPAN board member (right), talks to children while grilling steak.

Providing Relaxation Services for Parents

On August 23rd, AAR JAPAN organized an aromatherapy session for 24 parents at Higashihama Elementary School, making 8 professional aroma therapists available to offer them physical and mental relaxation. Equipment, including special beds, was provided by the therapists themselves or through donations from across the country. Relaxed lighting, ambient background music, the smell of oils, and a comfortable room temperature created a relaxing atmosphere that rejuvenated both the mind and body.  

Unable to release their pent-up stress and both physically and mentally exhausted, we discovered that some of the parents had developed a great deal of physical tension and very low body temperatures. Professional treatment allowed them to gradually relax.

Mr. KAKUDA, the school principal and also a disaster survivor, commented after the treatment, “I felt that I was truly able to relax for the first time since the earthquake. The time went by slowly, and it felt so good.” Others said that the session helped with backaches they had developed from living in evacuation centers, adding, “I never knew if felt this good”.

Various kinds of oils used in aromatherapy. Each aroma is selected based on the conditions and symptoms of the person receiving treatment.

Parents at Higashihama Elementary School receive massages. Exhausted since the earthquake, they finally get a chance for a little relaxation.

We sincerely appreciate the generous support of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, our aroma therapists, and the individual supporters who made these events possible.
AAR JAPAN plans to continue our Building Healthy Communities Project in cooperation with organizations and corporations so the people in the disaster zone can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

Erika SAITO, AAR JAPAN Sendai OfficeHas been working in medical assistance projects in AAR JAPAN’s Sendai Office since April 2011.