Turkey: Relief Team Reaches Disaster-Affected Area

According to a report made by the Turkish government on October 30th, over 600 people have been killed by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that shook eastern Turkey on the 23rd. A relief team that was dispatched by AAR JAPAN, consisting of 3 staff members, arrived in Turkey on the 26th and is currently assessing the extent of the damages caused by the earthquake. Miyuki KONNAI reports from Erciş, one of the cities severely affected by the disaster.

Disaster Victims Gather at Temporary Clinics

October 29th, 2011- Mr. Ates, who arrived in a temporary clinic in Ercis. He injured his leg in the earthquake.
As we entered the Erciş district on October 29th, we immediately noticed the city covered in rubbles of collapsed buildings.

Two temporary clinics have been built in this area. We chose to visit one of these facilities, formerly a high school gymnasium, in order to investigate the effects of the disaster. Many patients begin to arrive at around 9am, some limping, some being carried in by their family members, and others transported by the ambulance. Everyday, doctors, patients, and the patients’ families crowd the gym-turned-clinic, which now even has “hospitalization tents”.

At the clinic, we met Mr. Rifat Ates (65 years old), who was getting his injured leg treated. As he was on his way home from the bakery, something struck his leg when the ground suddenly shook, leaving a 10-cm gash on his left shin. “Please wash your wound once a day with clean water, and don’t hesitate to come in if you feel even the slightest of pain,” the doctor told Mr. Ates, who said that the wound has significantly improved.

“My Sister Died.”

October 29th, 2011- Humeyra broke her leg when the earthquake struck. She lost her older sister in the disaster.
Around 9:30am, Humeyra Savci (5 years old), wrapped in a white blanket, arrived at the clinic carried in her father’s arms. Her left foot that poked out of the blanket was encased in a cast. As she sat down on the bed with her father, she waited for the doctor with a worried expression on her face.

“(My leg) was broken in the earthquake.” “My sister died.” Humeyra slowly described the day of the incident in a weak voice. When the earthquake struck, she was watching television in the living room while her sister, Houva (7 years old) was helping her mother cook in the kitchen. The cupboard suddenly tipped over and the oven fell. Houva got caught between two tables and died. Meanwhile in the living room, the television and the stove fell over and Humeyra broke her leg.

The Lives of Evacuees in Tents

The injuries of those who come to the clinic vary from burns to fractures. Medical aid was thought to be sufficient through the allocation of domestic doctors and nurses; however, if the evacuees continue to live in the tents, cold will spread, and a large number of people could also suffer from diarrhea. Next to the clinic, we saw about 200 tents that were set up by the Red Crescent Societies.

We have been continuing our investigation process, being inclusive of marginalized communities such as remote villages and schools for persons with disabilities, and beginning to prepare for the distribution of relief supplies.

* This project was made possible thanks to a grant provided by Japan Platform in addition to generous individual donations.

October 9th, 2011- The city of Ercis filled with debris of destroyed houses. Yumeka OTA (center) of AAR JAPAN assesses the extent of the damages caused by the earthquake.
October 29th, 2011- Adjacent to the clinic were tents set up along Lake Van. The green truck supplies Turkish chai tea.

Miyuki KONNAI, AAR JAPAN Toyo Office
KONNAI joined the AAR JAPAN Tokyo office in October, 2011. She developed an interest toward Turkey, a country bridging the east and west, as a university student and further continued her studies at the graduate level. She has investigated various topics including the nation’s application to accede to the EU and immigration, conducted field researches in Turkey and northern Cyprus. She joined AAR JAPAN after spending 5.5 years at a newspaper company as a reporter. (Born in Fukushima Prefecture)


East Africa: Supplying Food and Relief Supplies to Those in Urgent Need of Assistance

According to a report by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on October 14th, the prolonged drought in Eastern Africa is considered to be the worst in the last 60 years, with more than 13,300,000 people in need of urgent humanitarian aid. AAR JAPAN has been mobilizing emergency assistance activities, distributing food items and other daily necessities in the northeastern Kenyan city of Garissa, and setting up tents to be used as elementary schools as well as distributing school supplies in refugee camps in Dadaab near the Somali border.

People in Destitute Conditions after Losing their Livestock in the Drought

United Nations organizations including UNHCR and other aid groups from around the world have been active in distributing basic supplies such as water and food to refugee camps in Kenya near the Somali border; however, aid within Kenya, in areas where the drought is particularly severe, still remains insufficient. In particular, the lives of nomadic herdsmen, whose number composes between 70% and 90% of the total population of the North Eastern Province, solely revolve around raising livestock and are greatly affected as their animals are dying from lack of water and pasture. As a result, many of them have given up their nomadic lifestyle and relocated closer to the larger cities. AAR JAPAN has consulted the Kenyan Red Cross and the local government and decided to initiate the distribution of food and other daily needs in the North Eastern Province.

October 10th, 2011- AAR JAPAN’s overseas staff member Chiya NAGASHIMA (right) interviews Ms. Phatma, 50 years old. “I used to own about 500 goats, but the majority of them have died. The remaining 50 are emaciated and cannot be sold,” she says.

We Have Distributed Food and Non-Food Items to 500 Families

October 18th, 2011- The relief supplies were brought to the capital city of Nairobi and then transported by 2 trucks. Tomoko SONODA (left), AAR JAPAN staff hands a relief package to a mother and her two children.

The population of Benane, one of our target areas, was approximately 16,000, but more than 3,000 people have resettled in the surrounding areas and an additional 5,000 nomadic herdsmen have flooded the entire Benane region in search of food and work. Food supplies from the Red Cross have been distributed to the pre-existing residents, but aid has not reached the newly arrived settlers. On October 18th, AAR JAPAN targeted such people in need of support, and distributed relief supplies to approximately 500 households.

“Relief aid has hardly reached us ever since the drought began, so we are truly grateful for the food supplies,” said 70-year-old Ms. Fatuma ALI. Ms ALI was previously one of the nomadic herders, but the majority of her 100 goats and 10 cows had died and her source of income was cut off. She arrived approximately 4 months ago in Benane with her relatives in a group of about 200 people. They have been living in shacks made of straw and tree branches, and Ms. ALI expressed joy when discovering that a vinyl tarp that could be used for rain protection was included as part of the relief supplies.

【Content of items distributed: 10 kg of rice, 2 kg of spaghetti, 3 kg of flour, 3 kg of beans, 1 kg of sugar, 500 grams of salt, 1 liter of cooking oil, canned tomatoes, tea leaves, bucket, portable fuel container, women’s sanitary products, 3 bars of soap, vinyl sheets】

“I am extremely thankful for the supplies,” says Ms. Fatuma ALI.

A shack used by one of the herders who gave up on their previous nomadic lifestyle.

The rainy season will begin in November and an average amount of rainfall is expected. However, rain does not necessarily mean that the nomadic herdsmen’s lives will return to what they used to be before; they are still left without their livestock. Many of them, who had led a migratory lifestyle herding animals, never attended school and are unable to take on new jobs. Furthermore, many of the places where they have currently resettled are in rural areas with limited or no access to schools and hospitals. In spite of the expected rainfall, the effects of the drought continue to threaten the lives of these people, forcing them into vulnerable conditions that require immediate assistance in various facets. I strongly felt that continuous assistance is desperately needed for these people.

Coordinating between Multiple Aid Organizations and Institutions

A tent used as a classroom at a refugee camp in Dadaab, provided by AAR JAPAN in September. The number of schools is far from sufficient and immediate support is needed in the field of education.

In addition to distributing food supplies and daily necessities in the disaster-affected region, we plan to carry out our ongoing relief activities in the refugee camps in Dadaab, such as setting up tents for schools, putting up a water tower, and installing a cooking facility, in the effort to improve the children’s learning environment. Currently, various UN organizations and international NGOs are offering support in Kenya, and it has not been an easy task for the groups to prevent overlaps or misallocation when distributing relief supplies. AAR JAPAN is committed to finalizing decisions based on our careful assessment of urgency, followed by the coordination with related aid organizations. There has even been a case where a staff member of an international NGO was kidnapped at a refugee camp in Dadaab. With utmost caution and a special attention to public security, we are dedicated to continuing our activities.

* This project was made possible thanks to a grant provided by Japan Platform in addition to generous individual donations.

Go IGARASHI, AAR JAPAN - Programme Coordinator
IGARASHI joined the AAR JAPAN Tokyo office in September, 2009. As part of the Overseas Division, he has coordinated projects in Kenya, Afghanistan, and Cambodia and additionally worked on emergency assistance operations during the Philippine Typhoon (2009), the Haiti Earthquake (2010), and the Sri Lanka Flood (2011). (Born in Tokyo)


Turkey:AAR JAPAN Dispatched Emergency relief team for the Earthquake Victims in Turkey

AAR JAPAN (Shinagawa, Tokyo = Yukie OSA, Chairperson) has decided to form a support team and dispatched 3 of its staff members to eastern Turkey in response to the earthquake that occurred on October 23. The team is to provide emergency assistance in the areas affected by the disaster.
A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck eastern Turkey on Sunday, October 23, 2011, at approximately 1:40pm (local time). According to a report made by the Turkish Ministry of Interior on October 24, 217 people died and 1,070 people were injured. The toll is expected to rise. AAR JAPAN has sent Yumeka OTA, Atsushi MIYAZAKI, and Miyuki KONNAI to Turkey, who will be responsible for conducting damage inspection as well as distributing relief supplies to disaster victims.
AAR JAPAN has previously provided humanitarian aid to Turkey after an earthquake in 1999. Experienced in initiating emergency relief activities both domestically and internationally such as for the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, we strive to efficiently and effectively provide emergency assistance in Turkey.

Yumeka OTA, AAR JAPAN - Programme Coordinator
OTA joined the Overseas Program at the AAR JAPAN Tokyo office in July, 2009. After completing her undergraduate studies, she worked for a research company in the USA before joining AAR JAPAN. In addition to coordinating the Laos program at the Tokyo office, she has been a part of other emergency assistance operations including the 2009 Sumatra earthquake in Indonesia and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
(28 years old from Kanagawa Prefecture)

Atsushi MIYAZAKI, AAR JAPAN - Coordinator
MIYAZAKI joined the Overseas/ Domestic Programs at the AAR JAPAN Tokyo office in September, 2011. His interest in international politics stems from his time in university, which led him to pursue a degree in Conflict Resolution Studies in the UK. Before joining AAR JAPAN, he had worked for an NGO that provides humanitarian aid in the Philippines.
(41 years old from Oita Prefecture)

Miyuki KONNAI, AAR JAPAN - Programme Coordinator
KONNAI joined the AAR JAPAN Tokyo office in October, 2011. She developed an interest toward Turkey, a country bridging the east and west, as a university student and further continued her studies at the graduate level. She has investigated various topics including the nation’s application to accede to the EU and immigration, conducted field researches in Turkey and northern Cyprus. She joined AAR JAPAN after spending 5.5 years at a newspaper company as a reporter.
(32 years old from Fukushima Prefecture)


Laos: Bringing First Aid Training for UXO Injuries to All Villagers

AAR JAPAN has been holding first aid training for accidents caused by unexploded ordnance (UXO) in northern Xieng Khouang province. This year in September, two training sessions on first aid for UXO accidents were held in two villages in Phaxay district. Over 100 villagers, young and old, took part in this session.

The topics covered included what to do when an UXO is found, first aid when an accident happens and ways of transporting a victim to a medical institution. The training sessions were carefully planned so that participants are able to learn effectively through fun activities such as quizzes and skits.

September 21st, 2011- Thai, one of our local staff explains about UXO as he shows a photograph. 

The local staff of AAR JAPAN was not the instructor at these sessions, but the facilitator.  The actual instruction was given by district hospital staff and village health volunteers who had participated in our past training sessions. The Lao people who were students before, now played the role of instructors and passed on what they had learned to the villagers.

September 21st, 2011- Learning first aid through skits. A village health volunteer (left) gives instructions. A villager (center) also takes part. A district hospital staff (foreground) plays the part of the victim.

The highlight of the sessions was a skit on what to do in case of an UXO accident. The skit was performed so that it would be both informative and entertaining. The audience watched on attentively, occasionally bursting out in laughter, as the district hospital staff acted out the victim moaning in pain and our staff comically acted out the part of a villager scurrying about.
A brochure with instructions on first aid for UXO victims.

At the end of the session, all participants received a brochure summarizing pertinent points of the training. The brochure, made in Laos by AAR JAPAN, gives easy-to-understand instructions on methods of administering first aid. They were made so that the villagers would have the instructions at hand to refer to everyday. Larger poster-size versions have been distributed for display on the walls of village temples and meeting places. It is our hope that these brochures at home and in public places will help reduce the number of UXO victims.

September 21st, 2011- Yumiko YAMASHITA (left) of the Xieng Khouang office in Laos acts out making a phone call after administering first aid.
Children drawn into the skit. The dangers and safety precautions related to UXO are learnt through fun activities

Bombs that were dropped during the Vietnam War still remain. Between January and September this year, already 29 UXO accidents have occurred in Xieng Khouang. To reduce the number of UXO victims of and to minimize the effects of injuries, AAR JAPAN will continue its effort to spread correct knowledge and technology related to UXO.

*These activities are supported by your donation and the subsidy from Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects by Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Yumiko YAMASHITA, AAR JAPAN Xieng Khuang office
After graduation from university, she worked as a hospital nurse. She then learned health system management at graduate school in England before joining AAR
 JAPAN. She has been working in the Xieng Khuang office in Laos since October 2010. (Born in Chiba Prefecture.)

Japan: Mobile Clinics and Health Services Conclude as Local Medical Institutions Restored

Six Months of Assisting Survivors in Their Homes

Mizuho SEKII, AAR JAPAN staff,
 visits Ms. SUGANO in her home,  
checking her blood pressure.
“Periodic visits allow us to become
close to the evacuees. We’re always
welcomed with smiles.” (Oshika 
 Peninsula, Ishinomaki City,
Miyagi Prefecture)
Since March 19th, the Association for Aid and Relief JAPAN (AAR JAPAN) has been offering medical services to approximately 640 residents of Makinohama, Takenohama, Kitsunezakihama, Sudachi, Fukkiura, Kozumihama, and Kobuchihama on the Oshika Peninsula, where a large number of disaster survivors were taking shelter in their own homes. 

AAR JAPAN’s medical team was built around three core members: two nurses, Tomoko NAGAI and Mizuho SEKII, and a local medical practitioner, Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA. The medical team ran mobile clinics and offered health-related services, including check-ups on sufferers of chronic illnesses, prevention of infectious diseases, and psychological care. By September 18th, we had offered home-visit treatments to a total of 817 people.

At the government’s request, between August 10th and September 15th the medical team conducted a survey to assess the health of survivors who had moved from evacuation centers into temporary housing. While conducting the survey, in addition to inquiring about the evacuees’ health the team also arranged nursing care services for those in need. In order to avoid overlapping target areas, throughout the operation the medical team carefully communicated with the local government and other organizations offering medical services in the area.

As local medical facilities resumed operations, these services were concluded on September 30th. Mizuho SEKII reports.

Helping Disaster Survivors Stay Healthy while Local Medical Facilities Recover

Dr. YASUDA, center, carefully 
examines Matsuyo HIRATSUKA, right.
At left is nurse Moeko NAGAI. 
(Oshika Peninsula, Ishinomaki City,    
Miyagi Prefecture).
Through the mobile clinic and our health-related services, I was able to observe changes in the lives of disaster survivors on the Oshika Peninsula. When we began the operation it was so cold, and many evacuees were getting sick from living in cramped spaces. Many lacked any means of transport to get to medical institutions, or could not receive medical services because the clinics were still unable to operate. Dr. YASUDA from AAR JAPAN’s medical team examined a great number of patients, and contributed to restoring their peace of mind.

Most transportation and medical services were restored by June or July, allowing many evacuees to travel to their usual hospitals and clinics. For those who lived in remote areas with less access to transportation, however, proper medical services were still not fully available. In such areas, our medical team made periodic visits and carefully tended to the sick and elderly.

By September, temporary health clinics had been established even in remote areas, and the doctors who had served in local medical facilities were able to resume operations, allowing AAR JAPAN’s medical team to conclude its services. We were pleased to be able to play a pivotal role in filling the medical gaps during the absence of regular service.

Encouraged by Smiles 
People on the Oshika Peninsula always 
look forward to our visits. Fukiko ABE,
right, shares her experiences from 
the earthquake with nurse Moeko NAGAI. 
(Oshika Peninsula, Ishinomaki City, 
Miyagi Prefecture)

Listening to disaster survivors was an important part of the medical team’s activities. Through listening, we were able to observe small changes in their psychological health as we worked. 

In the early days, many evacuees shared devastating experiences from the disaster with tears in their eyes, struggling to cope with the event. In our more recent visits, they seem much more relaxed, with their comments becoming more optimistic. Now we often hear them say, “There is nothing else I can do but look ahead.” Watching these people regain their strength after going through so much pain, I felt the depth of the courage of the people of the Oshika Peninsula. Despite both their mental and physical strain, every time we visited they were always appreciative of our services, offering us warm welcomes that truly touched us all.

Although AAR JAPAN’s mobile clinics and health-related services have achieved their objective, the evacuees continue to suffer from an uncertain future and the stress caused by having to live in new environments such as temporary housing. AAR JAPAN is committed to our efforts to support disaster survivors in recovering both their mental and physical health, and will continue to distribute relief items in preparation for the upcoming winter, offer rehabilitation services and psychological care, and arrange community interaction events such as the Building Healthy Communities Project. We would like to express our sincere appreciation for everything that your generous contributions have made possible, and ask for your continued support.

Mizuho SEKII, AAR JAPAN Medical team (nurse)
Worked as a nurse in a hospital for six years after graduating medical school. Engaged in AAR JAPAN’s medical support efforts in the disaster zone from April to September, 2011. (Born in Ibaraki Prefecture)



Japan: A Sendai Report by a Supporter―Witnessing the Plight with Her Own Eyes (4)

One of the AAR JAPAN longtime supporters, Ms. Toshi Morikawa, visited Miyagi prefecture in this early August.  She describes the calamity after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the strength of the local people. 

The Plight of Fishermen and Farmers in Northern Japan
A ship turned over by tsunami
 (April 10, 2011, Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi)

Northern Japan is largely an agrarian, farming and fishing country, left behind in Japan’s economic advancement. Its long beautiful coastline is dotted with some 400 fishing villages, now nearly all destroyed. A large part of these fishermen lost their homes, boats, fishing gear, store houses and often their canning and other marine industries, and their fishing ports. They cannot restart fish and shellfish cultivation, since the sea basin is still covered with debris. The Miyagi governor wants to establish special fishing economic zones, but the fishermen are angry. They say big business would fish aggressively, depleting the resources. They say their way of fishing has been, for generations, to tenderly care for their precious resources.

Farmers are also in a plight, as their soil has been soaked in salt water, and there is fear of radioactive contamination. The government says it intends to make farming possible in around three years, by desalting and removing the slime from the soil. Farmers are not so optimistic. They are farming in some areas, and raising cattle, not knowing if their produce could be sold. Areas near the nuclear reactors will reportedly remain off limits for decades to come. The situation changes daily.

Should they move their residence up hill?  Can they live away from their farm and their boats and their harbor?  Is their land safe? The government is yet to set many needed policies. Many questions remain.

A Hope to a New Way of Life
The issues are daunting. Yet, people's glowing faces at the concert, their tears of joy and sadness; people's tender care for each other; their resilience and innovation; and the matching support by NGOs, such as AAR, gives me the hope that this could perhaps lead to a new light, a new way of life through unknown ways; a change impossible during normal times.

This report gives only a minute description of the calamities experienced in northeastern Japan and what is being done to meet the challenges. It does not even touch major issues related to the nuclear disaster.

AAR JAPAN is Always with Most Vulnerable People

AAR JAPAN operated food assistance to
 Kenyans suffered from prolonged draught
 (August 14, 2011, Kenya)
AAR's September newsletter arrived.  It has a report on its activities to aid refugees from Somalia. AAR has an office in Nairobi. They sent 4 staff members to Nairobi on August 5. They began immediately to see what aid they can provide. They talked to local residents, local NGOs and the local government. Now they are positioned in two cities along the border, to help assist some 1500 refugees arriving from Somalia daily. They are again giving special attention to seniors, the disabled, nomads who came fleeing due to the draught, and people left out of any aid.

On Northern Japan it says people still in shelters have a hard life, so little exercise. The shelters are hot and damp. Their chances to do any washing is far between.  AAR is providing them, case by case to meet the need, with vacuum cleaners, electric fans, drying machines for beddings, dehumidifiers, house cleaning tools, insect repellents. They are exchanging some old beddings with new cotton summer blankets, and providing refrigerators. where there are none.  You can imagine how they could cope with no refrigerator during this record hot summer!  AAR is helping house cleaning,  too.  They have worked with 23 evacuation shelters so far.

AAR JAPAN provided humidifiers to local people
(October 5, 2011, Ishinomaki-City, Miyagi)

Moving to temporary housing is a step forward but, it means they need to obtain their daily meals on their own, and for those with no income it is not at all easy.  Such housing is often up on the hill, a safe place, not an easy place to live for people with no means of transportation.  Compensation talks are moving slowly.

I do admire the AAR staff, knowing many have studied abroad, and, interestingly enough, have worked at top class financial institutions in the world.
(the End)


Laos: Emergency Assistance for Flood Victims, Inflicted by Typhoon ‘’Haima’’

Floods triggered by typhoon ‘’Haima’’ caused tremendous damages to Xieng Khouang province in the northern part of Laos where AAR JAPAN has been engaged in unexploded ordnance (UXO) action. More than 500 houses were inundated or destroyed. Rice paddies, field, schools, bridges, and roads were also damaged. In Xieng Khouang province, the total number of flood victims counted up to 60,000 with 7 dead. In the affected areas, large stocks of rice were soaked in the floods prompting the Lao government to start distributing food.

Flood-damaged fields raise serious concerns about the upcoming harvest.
In response to this situation which struck Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia, AAR JAPAN set out to identify the needs of those whose livelihoods had been seriously affected.

Floods Cut Off Villagers from Clean Water Supplies

Yoko HAYASHI, AAR JAPAN staff at Xieng Khouang office, and local government staff visited villages in the affected areas to assess what was most needed. As a result, AAR JAPAN decided to help rebuild dams, water storage tanks and water pipelines to restore the functions of the water supply system in Ban Nador, Ban NaOung, Ban Hainieng, and Ban Kornyui where the damage was especially severe.

Yoko HAYASHI, AAR JAPAN staff, interviews local people to determine their assistance needs.

A local staff shows a disconnected water pipe: villages were deprived of clean water from the water tank. (Ban Hainieng)

Where a water tank once stood. Now washed away without a trace. (Ban Kornyui)

“Things have been difficult after the water supply facilities were destroyed,” a woman living in Ban Kornyui said, “Women and children were affected the most because we use a lot of water for preparing food and washing clothes every day. We have been using well water lately, but it’s not very clean. So we were very happy to hear that AAR JAPAN is going to rebuild the water supply system. I can’t wait till it’s finished.”

Mr. Fue, local staff of AAR JAPAN Xieng Khouang Office, interviews a woman from the village.

Villagers’ Cooperation Essential in Rebuilding Water Supply System

In Ban Nador and Ban NaOung where water tanks had been swept away by the landslides caused by the typhoon, AAR JAPAN engaged in the reconstruction of the water tanks and dam. The dam had to be built a few meters upstream from the initially planned location, because of the large volume of the river. This resulted in a shortage of pipes. Despite this setback, the completion of the reconstruction project was made possible by the goodwill of the villagers of Ban Hainieng who gave some of their water pipes for the reconstruction work of their neighboring village.

Ban Hainieng had not been spared the damage of the floods either. The water pipes between the water tanks and the village were damaged. This meant the villagers had to buy expensive bottled water to sustain their lives. AAR JAPAN helped restore a clean water supply to the village by overhauling the water pipeline and repairing the dam for supplying water to the storage tanks.

“Clean water will be supplied to our village!” Water pipes are about to be connected.

In Ban Kornyui, the only water tank had been washed away by the typhoon. As an emergency measure, the villagers installed a pipeline from the closest river. This river was smaller in capacity and was contaminated by sewage from other villages located upstream, but the villagers of Ban Kornyui had no choice but to use the polluted water. In response, AAR JAPAN set up a new water tank and installed water pipes which now supply safe and clean water to Ban Kornyui.

A newly installed water tank supplies clean water to the village.

Mr.Bounsom of Ban Kornyui bathes in clean water.

‘’We are so delighted to have clean water now!’’ From left, Mr.THAI, local staff of AAR JAPAN Xieng Khouang office, Mr.NOYMANY and Mrs.SIDA of Ban Kornyui, and Yoko HAYASHI of AAR JAPAN.

“We had no clean water for four months after the June typhoon,” explained Mr NOYMANY, a 47-year-old living in Ban Hainieng. “We were using well water and river water, but it was so dirty. We couldn’t even wash ourselves after coming back from the field, but not having water to drink was the biggest problem. We are all very delighted to have access to clean water now. Using clean water prevents the spread of diseases, and we are very grateful to AAR JAPAN.” Throughout the project, villagers from all four villages actively participated by helping with the construction work and the transportation of materials. At the completion ceremony, the village mayors said, “We will take on the task of protecting these newly constructed water tanks and pipes from here on.”

People of Xieng Khouang Give Appreciation Even to the Heavy Rainy Season

The rainy season in Laos lasts six months from April through October. During this wet season, it rains at least once a day, and it sometimes comes down in buckets for days on end. The poorly-paved roads of the mountainous province of Xieng Khouang are prone to flood disasters.

To get to the villages, we had to cross fast flowing rivers getting completely drenched and struggle through the swamp-like fields. This made me re-realize the difficulty the villagers are faced with because of the heavy rain. With beautiful smiles on their faces, the Lao people in Xieng Khouang said, ‘’once the rainy season passes and the dry season comes, we have to go fetch water from the river far from the village. With a lot of rain, crops grow well and we can eat a lot of fish and frogs from the river which makes us happy.” The frog dishes that the Lao people love so much and offer me every time I visit these villages are perhaps blessings from the rain as well.

Despite the harsh climate, the people in Xieng Khouang follow an easygoing lifestyle and remain thankful to nature. I hope to be able to continue AAR JAPAN’s activities to help these wonderful people live in a secure environment.

Yoko Hayashi, AAR Xieng Khouang office
Has been working in the Xieng Khouang office in Laos since December, 2010. Studied French and French colonial geopolitical history at university. After working for an airline company and a Japanese diplomatic office overseas, joined AAR JAPAN. (Born in Aichi Prefecture)