Myanmar (Burma): Community-Based Assistance for Persons with Disabilities

In Myanmar (Burma), a lack of understanding about persons with disabilities (PWDs) and poor infrastructural accessibility are making it difficult for PWDs to go to school or find employment. In order to assist PWDs in the country, AAR Japan has operated a vocational training center since 2000 and supported a school for children with disabilities since 2001. Since 2009, AAR Japan has been working striving to create a society in Myanmar that provides educational and employment opportunities for all people, with or without disabilities.

Getting More Involvement from the Community

In Dala and Shwe Phy Thar townships in the capital city of Yangon (Rangoon), AAR Japan is helping PWDs to establish and operate self-help groups. Each group, composed of 10-20 PWDs, is working to raise awareness about PWDs in the region and increase educational and employment opportunities for PWDs in the community. When a new group starts, AAR Japan staff members give them a lecture about basic knowledge such as the rights of PWDs and the advantages of working as a group. Next, AAR Japan conducts training sessions on topics such as leadership and accounting for efficient operation of the group’s activities. Later, AAR Japan helps them generate income by donating livestock and supporting the start of new businesses. Currently, six self-help groups are active in the two townships.

May 31st, 2012 – A workshop conducted by an AAR Japan staff member for a PWD self-help group. The participants were all eagerly listening to the lecturer.


Japan: Symposium on Women and International Cooperation Commemorates Centenary of Birth of Yukika SOHMA

How We Can Play Our Part for World Peace

A celebration of the 100-year anniversary of AAR Japan founder and former chairperson Yukika SOHMA’s birth was held on June 16, 2012. The event, a symposium entitled Women and International Cooperation, was held in the U Thant International Conference Hall, United Nations University (UNU).
During her life, Ms. SOHMA spoke of an increasingly complicated international society in which “There will come a point in time when it won’t suffice to see this as a man’s world. At that moment, I hope that women throughout the world will be able to stand up and show their innate strengths.” The symposium gathered female guests to discuss the topic of international cooperation from a female perspective. Speakers included major contributors to society and international cooperation, as well as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ms. Jody WILLIAMS.

June 16th, 2012 – Roughly 300 guests braved the rain to attend the event. (UNU, U Thant International Conference Hall)


Japan: AAR Japan Holds a Nature Experience Workshops for Children

For the Children of Fukushima, Who Cannot Play Outside Freely

Because of the impact of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, children of Fukushima Prefecture seldom have the opportunity to play outside. Furthermore, outdoor play areas for children are limited around the temporary housing complexes. Not being able to play outside not only leads to psychological stress for the children, but constant lack of exercise, which causes obesity and the weakening of the immune system, is also a concerning matter.

The city of Sukagawa located in central Fukushima, is no exception. According to a research conducted by the city, approximately 1,000 houses and 3,400 houses were completely destroyed and partially destroyed respectively, and more than 14,500 houses had been affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake (as of January 4th, 2012). Even now, more than 1,800 people are living in the city’s temporary or subsidized housing complexes as disaster evacuees.

In response, AAR Japan held the “Nishi-Aizu Waku-Waku Kids’ School” (waku-waku describes a state of excitement in Japanese) to help reduce the stress that the children experience from living in temporary housing and to combat the problem of lack of exercise. We also hoped that this event would be a good opportunity for the children to create unforgettable summer memories during such tough times. For two days from July 22nd to July 23rd, the event was held in the town of Nishi-Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture’s Yama County. Twenty families from Sukagawa City were invited to Lotus Inn and the International Art Village to take part in nature experience workshops. With a population of about 7,000, Nishi-Aizu Town is a remarkably nature-rich area with a beautiful landscape that is located in western Fukushima. The amount of aerial radiation is relatively low at about 0.8 micro-sievert per hour, which is about the same level as that of the Kanto region.