Japan: Sending Chocolates and Messages to Those Affected by the Disaster

To Those Living in Temporary Houses in Fukushima Prefecture
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR JAPAN), in collaboration with Rokkatei Confectionery Co. Ltd., a renowned sweets maker, is currently presenting its “Magokoro Campaign (literally meaning true heart campaign),” in which chocolate boxes are sent to those affected by the disaster. Messages of encouragement are sent along with the chocolate. If you purchase this chocolate (500 yen per box) from AAR JAPAN, we will make sure it is delivered to someone in the disaster area who would very much value such a gift. Up until now, we have delivered a total of 896 boxes to those affected living in Iitate Town and Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture.

January 18th, 2012- We attached warm messages to the chocolate boxes. The children were very happy to receive chocolate, and told us they were “Super good!” (City Welfare Center (Hamanasu-kan) of Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture)

Turkey: We Are Continuing Distribution of Relief Supplies in Snow-Covered Disaster Areas

Winter has arrived in the eastern part of Turkey where a massive earthquake struck last October, and the disaster site is now covered in snow. Construction of temporary housing has not seen progress, and many disaster survivors are still living in tents and temporary shacks.

AAR JAPAN’s emergency relief team consisting of 3 members (Kiyoto ONISHI, Yoshifumi KAWABATA, Norihiro FUJIMOTO) has been distributing food items (flour and cooking oil) as well as daily essentials (undergarments, soap, towels, hand cream, women’s sanitary products, etc.) to each of the disaster-affected households around the city of Van. Moreover, we have added cold-resistant aluminum sheets that were generously donated by Mitani Sangyo, Inc. (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture), which are being used as bedding and floor covering to combat the harsh cold weather in the region. From January 22nd to January 28th, we have distributed relief supplies to approximately 860 households in a total of 16 villages.

January 22nd, 2012- Kiyoto ONISHI (right) hands a bucket full of relief supplies to a father and his daughter. 


South Sudan: Easy Access to Water Is Achieved By New Water Supply System

South Sudan has just only become an independent country in July 2011, but AAR JAPAN’s water and sanitation project there started as early as 2006. Since then, 96 wells and 6 water supply systems have been constructed in different locations of Eastern Equatoria, one of the 10 states of the Republic of South Sudan. This report offers information about the water supply system that was completed in October 2011 in Kapoeta Town (Kapoeta South County).

October 17th, 2011- Each water tank has a capacity of 5,000 liters. Through pipelines, the water is distributed to three distant tap stands.


Cambodia: “All of the Relief Supplies Will Be Useful. Thank You.”

We Have Delivered Food Items and Daily Necessities to 3,000 Households

AAR JAPAN has been continuing its emergency assistance activities in Cambodia in response to the massive flooding that occurred last year. After our distribution activities of relief items on December 29th, 2011, January 5th, and January 12th, 2012, a total of approximately 3,000 households have been reached. In the future, we plan to distribute vegetable seeds to the flood victims so that they are able to grow and eat vegetables. We would like to thank all of our supporters and look forward to your continuous support.


Japan: Ten Months after the Great East Japan Earthquake: Activity Report

Meeting a New Year with the Survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake

December 18th, 2011 – AARJAPAN delivers snow shovels to people at Kamaishi Hakozaki No. 3 Temporary Housing Complex. (Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture)
AAR JAPAN has been carrying out relief efforts for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake since the immediate aftermath of the disaster. In addition to delivering emergency supplies to those who have limited access to aid, such as persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly, AAR JAPAN is also repairing welfare facilities and providing vehicles for facilities for persons with disabilities.


Haiti: Supporting Facilities for Persons with Disabilities and Foster Homes in the Earthquake-Stricken Areas

AAR JAPAN has been engaged in ongoing recovery operations in the disaster-affected areas of Haiti where a massive earthquake struck on January 12th, 2010, exactly two years ago. During the second half of 2011, AAR JAPAN constructed temporary buildings for a facility serving persons with visual impairment “Societe Haitienne d’Aide aux Aveugles (SHAA)” and 3 foster homes, as well as delivered equipment and supplies necessary to resume their operations.

Helping Persons with Visual Impairments Become Self-sufficient

The Republic of Haiti is known to have the largest number of persons with visual impairments in the Caribbean region, and a lack of assistance to persons with disabilities (PWDs) was an issue even before the earthquake. After the disaster, general recovery became everyone’s main concern, and efforts to improve the conditions of PWDs saw a drop in priority.

December 8th, 2011- Inside temporary building of SHAA still under construction. Building blocks are installed on the floor.


Tajikistan: Supporting Persons with Disabilities – A Girl Who Always Used to Cry Is Now Pursuing Her Dream

On November 11th, 2011, the World Cup qualification match between Japan and Tajikistan was held in Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan. Tajikistan is a country that is rarely picked up by the Japanese media, but this day was an exception as the soccer match was broadcasted live in Japan and abruptly garnered attention of the people. As the one and only Japanese NGO that is active in Tajikistan, AAR JAPAN has been engaging in activities to support persons with disabilities (PWDs) since 2002, with the goal to improve the harsh conditions that surround them. The dressmaking class that was established in 2010, which aimed to promote vocational training and social participation of PWDs, has been very popular. AAR JAPAN staff member, Ayumi YASUDA reports on an interview with one of the trainees of the dressmaking course.

Dressmaking Course Trainee Shazoda SULTONBOYZODA (17 Years Old)

Shazoda shows us her favorite piece of clothing that she made herself. Her confident smile was memorable.


Japan: Charity Concert in Shanghai

JPY 2,984,873 for the Disaster Affected Areas
All the performers on stage as the audience applause.
On October 20th, 2011, a concert for supporting the reconstruction efforts of the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake was held at the Lyceum Theatre in Shanghai, China. The Shanghai-based Japanese volunteer group Friend (representative: Kaoru Shinji) played a central role in setting up the concert’s organizing committee (chairperson: Hiroyoshi IKEDA, CEO, Shanghai MYTS Co. Ltd.) and hosting the concert which was named “Hope”. AAR JAPAN co-hosted the concert and Taki KATOH, AAR JAPAN’s Vice-President emceed the concert. A total of eight musicians came together to support the cause. The 680-seat hall was virtually full and the concert ended in great success. JPY 2,984,873 in proceeds will go towards installing playground equipment for the children from Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture living in temporary housing. We extend our sincere gratitude to the audience, the performers and all those who were involved in making this event a great success.

The following is a report on the concert from Mariko SUGANUMA, member of the concert committee and Board of Directors of AAR JAPAN in Shanghai.

Eight Musicians Rally Together to Give Support
 The 680-seat historic Lyceum Theatre built in 1930 was virtually full.
The concert started with a moment of silence. The passionate and heartfelt performance by eight musicians that followed touched the audience. Part 1 entitled “Prayer” started with a performance by two young Chinese viola players, Nian LIU and Li CHEN. This was followed by Mayumi OGAWA, active both in and out of China, on the piano and George MAXIM, concertmaster of a Canadian symphony orchestra, on the violin. Part 2 entitled “Hope” was started by Hiromi NAKAMIZO, a Japan-based jazz singer, and Akiko KUMAKURA, a young talented Shanghai-based pianist. They were followed by a husband and wife violin piano duet byYinlin PAN, the chief concertmaster of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Vice-chairman of the Chinese Violin Association, and Jingrong LEI, his pianist wife.

Shanghai Chorus Platanus and the gospel group J. Voice sang “Miageto Goran Yoruno Hoshiwo” at the finale. The concert came to a close with the audience joining in to sing “Furusato,” (birthplace or hometown) a song that has a special place in the hearts all Japanese. It was a moment when our hearts came together for the reconstruction efforts.

An Account from a Teacher from the Disaster Affected Areas
The assistant principal, Takashi HINO, from Iinokawa First Primary School in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, talked about the current situation. (On the left is Taki KATOH, Vice-President of AAR JAPAN)
In Part 2 of the concert, Takashi HINO, an assistant principal from Iinokawa First Primary School in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, was invited to talk. We felt that bringing a first-hand account was especially important at this time when people’s interests were beginning to wane seven months on from the earthquake. We wanted the audience to feel more connected with the people of the disaster-struck areas. Mr. HINO spoke about the current situation and how the children were affected. He ended his talk by expressing his gratitude toward the people of Shanghai and emphasizing the importance of a society with a spirit of helping each other.

Overcoming Obstacles
The husband and wife collaboration: Yinlin PAN, the chief concertmaster of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and his wife and pianist, Jingrong LEI.
This was the first concert by a Japanese volunteer organization for supporting the reconstruction efforts of the regions affected by the East Japan Earthquake. It was a landmark event in that the proceeds from the concert were donated to a civilian NPO. Many hurdles and challenges had to be overcome along the way. In China, various limitations are imposed on holding charity events, such as restrictions on volunteer organizations renting a hall, receiving donations and transferring money overseas. It was when we were in a very challenging situation when the Shanghai Youth Development Foundation stepped in and offered us assistance. They had previously collaborated with Friend – “Friend has given the children of China support. Now it is our turn to give a lending hand to the children of Japan.” It was this Foundation’s support which propelled the plan to host a concert forward.

The Foundation was a public-interest organization run by the Communist Youth League of China. With the help of the Foundation, many hurdles were overcome – the paperwork required by Shanghai and the money transfer to AAR JAPAN went smoothly. The official receipt for the contributions and donations which is essential in filing tax returns was issued swiftly thanks to their support and advice.

Ticket Sales and Enlarging the Circle of Support
“I would like to heal the heart and bring peace of mind to the people affected,” says George MAXIM who responded readily to the call to participate. Mayumi OGAWA on the piano.
Even with the Foundation’s support, however, organizing such an event for the first time was no easy task. In China ticket sales cannot start before the final approval of the event by the authorities. Even after we started publicizing the event, we had to anxiously wait for permission to start selling the tickets. It was not until mid-September that we finally got the go ahead.

The chairman of the Concert Organization Committee, Hiroyoshi IKEDA, led the effort to call upon organizations for their support and cooperation. The generous support received from numerous organizations was essential components in making this concert happen. An offer to cover the costs for the concert came from ShanghaiRinnai Co. Ltd.. Assisting ticket sales and finding other organizations willing to give support was enthusiastically taken on by Shanghai MYTS Co. Ltd.. Accommodation for guests was provided by Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai. Ticket sales were assisted by Yamato International Shanghai. The piano was lent by YAMAHA. The flowers for the stage, the food for the members of staff – so many things were provided by so many organizations.

The Performers and Audience Come Together
Hiromi NAKAMIZO, a jazz singer based in Japan, touched the audience with her performance of “Amazing Grace.”
People came up to us after the concert saying, “Thank you for organizing such a wonderful concert,” “I couldn’t stop crying.” We also heard people say “I think our thoughts will reach the areas that have been affected,” “The Chinese people will continue to support the people of Japan” and “I now see that the people still need our support.” The thoughts were different, but it was an evening when everyone’s hearts were with the people in the affected areas.
Staying Connected
The Shanghai Chorus Platanus, the members of the gospel group J. Voice and the audience joined in a chorus of “Furusato”. 
The concert in Shanghai is over, but the situation in the regions affected is still very difficult. I sincerely hope that through music we were able to strengthen the connection with the people in the disaster affected regions. I would like to end by paying my respects for those who have passed away – may their souls rest in peace. I also pray for those who are in the midst of the ongoing rebuilding efforts. 

Mariko SUGANUMA, Board of Director of AAR JAPAN
After graduating university, worked at private company and worked at Zambia Office of AAR JAPAN from 1991 to 1993. While working in Zambia, put together a book “LOVE LOVE AFRICA!” (Japan Educational Press) and the book was chosen as the JLA (Japan Library Association) Selected Book. Since June 2009, became a board of director of AAR JAPAN. Currently, lives in Shanghai supporting charity group “Friend” which aims to help children with economic difficulties go to school and learn in the better environment. Has two children. 


JAPAN: “Building Healthy Communities” Event at a Temporary Housing Facility in Ishinomaki

December 10th, 2011 – Group photo with members of “AEON 1% Club” who contributed to the AAR JAPAN “Building Healthy Communities” project (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

Disaster survivors end up all too easily spending their days isolated behind closed doors. This is why AAR JAPAN’s “Building Healthy Community” project seeks to create opportunities for people to go out and interact. The project promotes networking events such as massage sessions or soup kitchens in the affected regions.


Turkey: Resuming Relief Efforts with Distribution of Food and Daily Necessities to 78 Households

Reacting to the earthquake that rocked east Turkey on October 23rd, 2011, AAR JAPAN deployed 3 staff members on October 26th to help with the relief effort through distribution of food and daily necessities. Right in the midst of our efforts in the affected area, a strong aftershock again hit the same area, and unfortunately, one of our staff members Atsushi MIYAZAKI lost his life in a collapse hotel building.
We had suspended our activities after the incident, but as it remained that much assistance was still needed by those affected in Turkey, we decided to restart our project again. On December 14th, Kiyoto ONISHI, Deputy Secretary General of AAR JAPAN, entered Turkey to pick up where we left off, and on December 26th, Yoshifumi KAWABATA, a staff member of AAR JAPAN, also flew over to join him. On December 28th, we made a distribution of relief items to Akcaoren Town in Van Province in eastern Turkey.
People Suffering Through the Cold Winter in Tents
Akcaoren Town is a small town surrounded by mountains. Most houses have either completely collapsed or half collapsed as a result of the earthquake. Even those people whose houses didn’t collapse are living in tents out of fear for the next aftershock. The government of Turkey has provided some container houses, but it is not nearly enough to accommodate everyone. And if all that was not bad enough, the cold temperature during this season is unforgiving – water puddles remain frozen even during the daytime, and the temperature dips well below zero degrees Celsius during the night.

December 28th, 2011 - A family going home with the relief supplies. Collapsed building and the tents people currently live in can be seen in the background. (Photo taken by Yoshifumi KAWABATA)