Philippines: One Year On After Typhoon Yolanda - Assisting Persons with Disabilities

On November 8th, 2013, a super typhoon (in Filipino, Typhoon Yolanda), the 30th named storm of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season, made landfall in the central region of the Philippines. Immediately after the typhoon struck, AAR Japan sent support by distributing relief goods and repairing homes in the most devastated areas of Northern Cebu, and in Tacloban City and Palo Town on the island of Leyte. While carrying out our emergency relief activities, we gave particular attention to assisting persons with disabilities (PWDs) - in which we have accumulated extensive experience in other countries. AAR continued providing aid until the end of October, 2014.

Pursuing the kind of aid only AAR could give

After the typhoon struck, there was no survey carried out to confirm the safety or conditions of PWDs in the above target areas. At that point, AAR stepped in, going door-to-door and documenting where PWDs lived and what kind of disabilities they had to ensure that nobody was left out from receiving emergency relief. In total, we collected information from 5,687 PWDs, and submitted the compiled data to local government units. In addition, AAR provided food and other relief goods to households with PWDs. During the goods distribution and door-to-door survey, we discovered that many PWDs in the target areas had lost their wheelchairs - their only means of transportation - due to the typhoon and tsunami. Moreover, governmental support for PWDs is still insufficient in the Philippines, and discrimination is a very real issue. As a result, PWDs are more likely to seclude themselves in their homes.

Providing tailored “legs”

In response to the plight that PWDs faced in the Philippines after the typhoon, AAR provided 40 wheelchairs and 27 walkers to PWDs with mobility difficulties in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte. To the PWDs, these wheelchairs and walkers are their “legs”. Therefore, it was essential to ensure that the type and size fitted each individual. Together with a Filipino wheelchair specialist organization, AAR had a “measuring session” to measure the length of each individual’s legs and assess their balance and posture. A “fitting session” followed, in which we adjusted the wheelchairs and had PWDs practice using them. Once we ensured the adjustments and correct usage, the wheelchairs were distributed. Afterwards, AAR continued to provide comprehensive support by conducting “follow-ups” to check if any of PWDs were having difficulties using their wheelchairs.

At the “measuring session”. In order to provide wheelchairs that fit each individual perfectly, we measured the legs of the PWDs one by one. (May 24th, 2014, Palo)


Sudan: Protecting Those Living in Mine-Affected Areas

Overcoming the conflicts and restoring hope

In Sudan, a peace agreement was reached in 2005, putting an end to the 21-year civil war between the north and the south. In 2006, AAR Japan started mine risk education.

When I visited a village called Shalalob to conduct a survey, I met a woman who was unable to take her child to a hospital due to a lack of money and a lack of access to a car. When she asked why we came to the village, we explained about mine risk education. She responded, “How come you are so eager to save our lives? Tell me where landmines are. I want to step on a landmine to put an end to my miserable life.”

The AAR team was shocked to hear her words. I realized that the lingering civil war had not only left landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) in Sudan, but also left the local people in poverty, despair, and sorrow.

One of our local staff, Amaeim (center), explains what landmines look like and where they are likely to be found by showing a poster. 


Uganda: Helping Landmine Victims Become Self-Reliant

In Uganda, located in Central Africa, there is still a massive amount of remaining landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as a result of the 40 year civil war. AAR Japan has assisted landmine victims since 2009 in cooperation with the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA). Today, in Yumbe District in North Uganda, where there remains a serious issue of mine pollution, we offer assistance to 25 victims to start high-demand businesses such as general stores and beekeeping. We also provide them with guidance about business management. The following is the report from Margaret Arach ORECH, the Director of ULSA.

Supporting small businesses of landmine and UXO victims

Ms. Amina CHADIRU (age 35) stepped on a landmine and lost her left leg when she went to collect edible termites in July, 1997. After the accident, she was unable to have a stable job and did not have enough income to support herself. However, since she has started selling secondhand clothes with the support from AAR and ULSA , her income has increased. “My store has become well known in this area and now, I am able to send my six kids to school”, she said with delight.

Ms. CHADIRU lost her left leg in a landmine accident. A bicycle and old clothes were provided to her to start a business (May 13th, 2014).


Laos: Supporting the Self-Sufficiency of Persons with Disabilities through Catfish Culture

Starting a small scale business in back yards

It is generally and universally challenging for persons with disabilities (PWDs) to have a job, earn his/her own income, and be able to live independently. Laos is no exception. In order to change such a condition, AAR Japan, in cooperation with Laos Disabled People’s Association (LDPA), is supporting PWDs in starting their own small businesses. Since July of 2014, we started a project to support PWDs with limited opportunities in getting a job, especially those in rural areas. The project provides assistance in starting small-scale business such as mushroom growing, sewing, and catfish culture that PWDs can engage at home or nearby. This report is on the catfish culture.

Why catfish?

In Laos, catfish is a very common food. Its market is less competitive in comparison to rice and meat, and the fish can be sold directly to the neighbors. It involves less labor, and is relatively easy for PWDs to start on. However, it is crucial that each participant has a strong motivation and commitment in order to succeed. Therefore, we asked each participant to bear a part of the start-up cost (equivalent of 2,000 Japanese yen) in the project, so that they have a strong motivation to continue their businesses.

Catfish fry, which was 8 cm, has grown more than double the length to 18 cm after a month (Above photo taken on September 4th, 2014. The below was taken on October 2nd, 2014)


Tajikistan: Persons With and Without Disabilities, Let’s Learn Together

Creating common learning places, without isolating children with disabilities

In Tajikistan, generally speaking, children with disabilities either study away from their families, at boarding schools established specifically for them, or they simply stay home without going to school. When children with disabilities are isolated in such a way, however, they lose contact with society, and society continues to show prejudice against them. In order to try to change this situation, AAR Japan has been engaged in activities to enable children with and without disabilities to study together in same schools. These activities have been undertaken in cooperation with local organizations for persons with disabilities, Rushdi Incluziya and IRODA, at School No. 28 and School No. 72 in the capital city of Dushanbe since January 2014.

School No. 28 actually started accepting children with disabilities nine years ago, as a result of direct negotiations with principals and requests from parents. However, the physical environments of the school had been far from “barrier free.” AAR, in response, installed wheelchair ramps and renovated toilets in the above two schools to make it more accessible for children with mobility difficulties. In addition, with a view to facilitating acceptance of children with disabilities by school teachers, staff, parents and schoolchildren, we have held various events aimed at deepening understanding of children with disabilities and conducted trainings for teachers and other school staff members.

School No. 28 is now equipped with a wheelchair ramp. (July 30th, 2014) 


East Japan: Libraries for People with Disabilities

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has been setting up libraries and providing books to facilities for people with disabilities that were struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake in the prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate. The libraries greatly help to stabilize the minds of children with disabilities who are likely to have trouble adjusting to the new environment brought about by the earthquake.

 Large-sized picture books have enriched children's emotions – Fukushima

Ever since the large-sized picture books arrived, it has become a valued time for the staff members to read books aloud to the children.  The 'picture book room' in Fukushima supported by AAR Japan.


Laos: Having Completed AAR Japan’s Mission in Xieng Khuang

In Laos, many cluster bombs dropped during the Indochina War still remain in the soil as unexploded ordnance (UXOs). From 2010 to June 2014, AAR Japan set up a local office in Xieng Khuang Province, a province located in the north of Laos that has been badly affected, and provided various activities to reduce damage inflicted by UXO-related accidents.
From June 2013 to June 2014, AAR Japan provided training in first-aid techniques necessary to survive UXO-related accidents to 305 village health volunteers (VHVs) in 171 villages and 56 nurses for 22 health centers (HCNs). In 26 villages which had recently suffered many UXO-related accidents, AAR Japan provided workshops on first-aid techniques to a total of 1,300 villagers. In addition, with cooperation of a local organization, we prepared posters to have villagers know how to be alert in their daily lives to prevent UXO-related accidents and composed a song on the dangers of UXOs, offering them to the organization and radio stations.
Below is a summary by Noriko ANDO, an AAR Japan volunteer involved in the initatives, including the details of the hands-on training and workshops at the site and remarks from villagers.
AAR has installed ramps and constructed accessible lavatories to make it easier for children with disabilities to attend school in Khwowaja Sayaran Public School and Sediqi Public School in Parwan Prefecture.
Noriko ANDO instructs HCNs on resuscitation. (December 23rd, 2013)


Haiti: Keep Yourself Clean, And Feel Refreshed

October 15th is Global Hand Washing Day!

In many parts of the world where AAR Japan has been actively involved, a lot of people, many of whom are children, have lost their lives to infectious diseases that could have been prevented if they had lived in Japan. This is due to a lack of safe drinking water and adequate knowledge of hygiene.

Since the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, there has been a large-scale outbreak of cholera, which is transmitted by unclean water. The outbreak has left the country with the highest rate of cholera-infected persons in the world. In other regions too, people have no choice but to use unclean water, for example, in the north-western part of Pakistan, where a large number of people have taken refuge from the civil war; and also in the north-eastern part of Kenya, where many people have settled because of the repeated droughts that have made their nomadic life impossible.

Besides providing these countries with wells, toilets and washrooms / washing facilities, AAR has been teaching Haitians the proper way to wash hands and the importance of using a toilet, so that hygienic habits will become part of their everyday lives.

“Where should we pee or poo?” AAR staff in Haiti asks the children in Sacre Coeur primary school, showing pictures of the toilet and hand washing facilities.  (March 25th, 2014)


Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines: Cooperating in Building a Disaster-Resistant Community

The Province of Leyte, in the Philippines, was stricken by the typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda, and typhoon No.30 of 2013 in Japanese numbering) in November, 2013, and rehabilitation of the affected areas is under way. AAR Japan is continuing its support to the devastated areas for the purpose of not only recovering to the pre-disaster conditions, but also building communities that are resistant to future typhoons and other disasters. In August, 2014, we organized training workshop on housing construction and distributed housing repair materials in affected areas.  AAR Japan’s local staff member Ryan Labicane reports.

Organizing workshops to build disaster-resistant houses

"Build back better" workshop at New Kawayan, Tacloban City (August 6th, 2014)


Photo Exhibition “Women in Mine Action – Commemorating the 15th Anniversary since the Mine Ban Treaty” [December 17th-19th, 2014]

Photo Exhibition “Women in Mine Action – Commemorating the 15th Anniversary since the Mine Ban Treaty”
Focusing on women working in mine action in the world in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty [the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction], AAR Japan will hold a photo exhibition on “Women in Mine Action” at the Kensei Kinenkan, Tokyo.
Our female staff lecturing women about the risks of mines with a poster of full-size images (Afghanistan, February 19th, 2014 )

Great East Japan Earthquake: Making Delicious Lunch Boxes for Sale with a Smile - The Endeavor of Centers for Persons with Disabilities -

In cooperation with Accenture Japan Ltd, a consulting firm, AAR Japan has been supporting welfare centers for persons with disabilities, affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, for the purpose of improving their profit from sales. Here is a report on “making and selling a popular lunch”.

Ms. HAMAUCHI (left), who is teaching CAFE Sweet hot staff members, says, “It’s very important to measure seasonings accurately, so that you can always provide the same taste.”  (Fukushima Prefecture, July 31st, 2014)


Zambia: Support for People Living with HIV

Encouraging HIV-positive patients to continue medication

HIV/AIDS is generally understood to be a fatal disease. However, nowadays, by taking medication on a daily basis, patients can curb the onset and the development of AIDS, even if they are infected with HIV. Since 2000, AAR Japan has been implementing projects to raise awareness for HIV prevention, and has been carrying out a project supporting the education of children orphaned by AIDS in Zambia. In Zambia (located in Southern Africa), one out of every eight adults is said to be HIV-positive. Since January 2013, AAR has also been improving treatment facilities for HIV-positive patients in local clinics, and has been training local volunteers to support people living with HIV.

AAR has organized “AIDS Action Club” in four schools in Lusaka Province. The project aims to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among local students. The club members convey information about HIV/AIDS to other students through entertaining activities such as plays and songs. (June 15th, 2014)


“Different for Sure, But We are All Just the Same.” AAR Japan Hosted a Children’s Summer Event

On August 20, 2014, AAR Japan hosted a summer event for primary school kids under the title "Different for sure, but we are all just the same; let's think over disabilities and international cooperation," at 3331 Arts Chiyoda of Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo. We held this event one time each in the morning and in the afternoon, and primary school pupils as well as preschool kids with their parents (34 people in total) participated in it.

It is the main theme of this event how to support persons with disabilities (PWDs) in developing countries. The objective was to make children understand that disabilities are not weak points or defects but are a matter of individual difference, like appearances and personalities. Moreover, our ambition was to provide an opportunity for the children to think about the particularly severe living conditions of PWDs in developing countries and to think over what they themselves can do for them .

For this event, some students from Shoei Girls' Senior High School helped us plan, organize, provide on-the-spot preparations and moderate the event.

Minori TAKITA, an intern of AAR Japan, reports on the event.


Myanmar: How the community is changed by the social participation of persons with disabilities

Since 1999, AAR Japan has been engaging in a variety of activities to increase opportunities of social participation for persons with disabilities (PWDs)in Myanmar,for example,through vocational guidance as well as educational and employment support. AAR Japan has supported efforts led by the PWDs to deepen local people’s understanding of “disabilities” through the “Community Based Rehabilitation” approach in the suburb of Yangon since 2009. Resident staff Akemi KITA reports how the behaviors and mindsets of the local people have changed during the 5 years that AAR Japan has provided assistance to PWDs.

International staff Akemi KITA (right), listening to the conversations in a printing shop established by a PWDs group.


Typhoon Hitting the Philippines: Building Disaster-Resistant Housing on Your Own

The typhoon Yolanda (typhoon No.30 of 2013 in Japanese numbering) struck the Philippines on November 11, 2013.  AAR Japan dispatched an emergency support team to the devastated area and has since been engaged in supporting activities. 

Distributing house repair materials to 2,224 households 

In the Philippines, 1.14 million houses were either completely or partially destroyed by the typhoon Yolanda.  Victims were covering blown off roofs with plastic sheets or erecting tents to take shelter near their destroyed homes, and forced to live difficult lives.  Since December, 2013, AAR Japan prepared sets of repair materials for housing such as tin plates and nails, and distributed them to suffering families – especially those having persons with disabilities – amounting to a total of 2,224 households (approximately 11,000 people).
“Thanks a lot to the AAR support.  We shall share the learned techniques with the local people,” say the carpenters who participated in the training course for constructing disaster-resistant houses, standing side-by-side with Mr. Yuta Funakoshi of AAR (right). (April 30, 2014)


Kenya: Efforts to ensure rural villagers have continued and secure access to clean water

From February to November in 2013, AAR Japan drilled wells and installed water supply equipment in five villages in Garissa County in the North Eastern Province of Kenya to allow villagers that had been affected by recurrent drought to obtain access to clean water. These efforts have lightened the burden on women and children fetching drinking water and has enabled some 5,200 villagers to live a life free from water deficiency even during the dry season. AAR Japan also formed Water Users’ Associations in each village and presented a workshop on sustainability to the villagers. Through the workshop, participants learnt how to use the installed water supply equipment properly, how to perform basic repairs, the collection of service fees from users to be used in the case of equipment failure, and the importance of keeping the equipment clean. Six months after the water supply equipment was installed, we visited the same villages to see how the villagers had been managing their facilities.

In Quabobey village, six months after the construction of the new well, the water users’ association continues to follow the management method promoted by AAR Japan’s workshop. AAR Japan resident staff member, Mr. Shin Suzuki, enjoys a photo with the villagers benefiting from the new well. (front row far left, May 19th, 2014).

We used to spend many hours fetching water necessary for daily life

The Tana River, Kenya’s longest river, is a primary source of water for many villages in Garissa County.  However, the Tana River often floods during the rainy season and consequently most villages were settled approximately 2-3 kilometers away from the river. Among those villages, fetching water is considered a task of the women and children and can take up to several hours per day. An adult woman will carry approximately 20 kilograms of water each time she fetches water from the river.

Mr. Daigo Takagi checking that the water supply equipment installed by AAR Japan is functioning properly. (Quabobey village, Dec 2nd, 2013).
AAR Japan built wells in five villages in Garissa County, each having the dual effect of reducing the burden of having to retrieve water from the river and providing the villagers with secure access to safe water. 
"Before, I used to walk 3kms to the river to fetch water twice a day, every morning and evening. Now we have the well, and my task has become much easier. Besides, well-water tastes better than river-water.” Ms. Rukia Hante (pictured left).

Villagers’ ingenuity “not to waste even a drop of water”

We periodically visit the villages where we built the wells to see, amongst other things, if the water supply facilities are being well managed and if the water users’ association is functioning well. On 19 May this year, we visited Quabobey village and were amazed by the ingenuity of the villagers. We were pleased to find that, based on the systems they learnt from AAR’s workshop, the association has been collecting and saving the service fees from users and allotting it for the repair of faucets and the stockade as needed. Another inspiring discovery was the initiative of the association to establish and cultivate a vegetable field around the well in order to not waste any water spilt whilst drawing. The spilt water is used in the vegetable field to grow vegetables that are sold at the market and all profits are allocated and kept for future repair works. 

A workshop for the water users’ association of Ture village, organized by AAR officer. (July 3rd, 2013).
Vegetable fields cultivated around the new well in Quabobey village utilizing spilled water for irrigation. (May 3rd, 2014).
On the same day, we visited Rahma village and found that the local water users’ association had installed a self-made fence of shrubs around the facility.  As nomads occupy a large proportion of the population in this area, keeping cows, goats, sheep and camels as livestock, prior to the construction of the fence, intrusion by livestock resulting in equipment failure and water pollution was common. We found that other villages had also constructed similar fences around their facilities to secure the safe water supply from similar hazards. 

Hygiene education reduces the risks of infectious disease

In addition to installing vital water supply equipment, such as wells, AAR Japan is working on installing toilets and providing hygiene education to rural villages in Garissa County of Kenya. We provide knowledge of hygiene and educate the villagers in basic hygienic practices, such as pre-meal and post-excretion hand washing, to reduce the risks of infectious disease being contracted and spreading.
※This program was supported by a grant from Japan Platform (JPF), in addition to your kind donations. Since January 2014, we have been conducting our activity with the support of Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Reporter (as of the date of the article) Mr. Shin SUZUKI, AAR Kenya resident staff. Mr. Suzuki worked in the AAR Japan Kabul office from 2005 to 2007. After working in the private sector, Mr. Suzuki returned to AAR Japan on Mar 2014 and has since been placed in Kenya. Mr. Suzuki is originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
Japanese-English translation by Mr Masaharu Sato
English editing by Mr Peter Bungate

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.


South Sudan Emergency Aid: Water Supply Facilities Completed at Refugee Camp

About 38,000 people have evacuated South Sudan, which has been mired in conflict since the end of last year, to the Kakuma refugee camp in neighboring Kenya (as of June 11th, 2014. UNHCR <United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees>).  AAR Japan has been conducting research and providing support at the Kakuma refugee camp since February this year. Resident Staff of AAR Japan South Sudan Office Daijo TSUCHIKAWA, who is engaged in the activities on the ground, reports:

Installing Water Pipe to Deliver Safe Water to the Camp

Because of continued heavy rain, the water tank truck became stuck on the muddy road before reaching the camp. (March 19th, 2014)


Myanmar: Landmine/UXO action Providing a safe and livable environment - even for persons with disabilities

Myanmar (Burma) is said to be one of the world's most heavily mine-contaminated countries.
In Karen state, which is in a particularly serious situation, Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan) opened its office in Hpa-An, the state capital, in July 2013. Since then, we have been providing support for mine victims and developing teaching materials for landmine risk education.
This report is provided to you by Yoshio NAKAGAWA, from our Hpa-An office.

We have paved roads and reconstructed water tanks in Thit Sar Aye Myaing village in Karen state, Myanmar, where many landmine victims live. At the completion ceremony, residents celebrated in colorful ethnic costumes. Yumiko KAKUDA, one of our staff members, is pictured second from the left in the front row. (April 27, 2014)


Supporting Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) - Graduates of Vocational Training Schools

Offering vocational training to more than 1,200 PWDs for 15 years

In Myanmar, the superstition still persists among people that PWDs were born the way they were because they were sinful in their former lives. In Burmese, the official language of Myanmar, being handicapped has a connotation of “being unable to do anything”, and people tend to dismiss PWDs as unskilled. This explains why PWDs generally have no choice but to be dependent on their family members. As a matter of fact, family members have little or no interest on how to educate PWDs. In addition to these social and cultural factors in Myanmar, the limited number of social workers and limited budget has resulted in fewer opportunities for PWDs to get involved in their community.
The first batch of graduates singing and dancing at the graduation ceremony. The representative of the class said, “We would like to make the most of the skills we acquired in this school and contribute to the welfare of PWDs in our community.”  (April 9th, 2014)


Grateful for the continuing support 3 years on - Thank you for your cooperation with the “Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign”

Many warm sentiments delivered to Tohoku

In the Heart-Warming Chocolate Delivery Campaign, messages of support from people all over Japan were attached to AAR Japan's charity chocolates and delivered to the areas stricken by the Tohoku Earthquake. From December 2011 to March 2014 (with the campaign running during winter only) we received orders for 6,452 chocolates.

In Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures, staff from AAR's Tohoku office distributed the chocolates by visiting temporary housing units door to door and at events organized by AAR. In this report, we will relay some of the circumstances and messages of thanks from the recipients.
"We're grateful for the support from all over Japan". Chocolates were delivered to 15 people in Konakai Temporary Shelter Complex in Ofunato city. In the front row on the far right is AAR Sendai office's Kazuo ITO (February 10th, 2014)


Emergency Assistance in South Sudan: Providing children in refugee camps with necessities

As of April 30th, 34,000 people have fled South Sudan amid ongoing warfare and arrived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in the neighboring nation of Kenya. AAR is now providing support for the children in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Ryo KAKUTANI of AAR South Sudan Office reports.

Desks have finally arrived! The children were anxious to start school and helped us carry the desks to the classroom tents. (Far center: Ryo KAKUTANI, May 4th 2014)


Attending the UN Meeting on Killer Robots

Attending the experts’ meeting in Switzerland

Government representatives from 87 nations, UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and NGOs gathered for the convention. (May 13th, 2014)
Killer robots, or lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), are weapons that autonomously select and attack targets with no human intervention. Although they have not been used in the battlefield, it is estimated that the technology could be developed in 10-20 years. AAR Japan engages in a steering committee of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an international civil society network launched in April 2013 which aims to pre-emptively ban fully autonomous weapons.

From 13th to 16th of May 2014, informal meeting of experts of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) took place at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It was the first-ever multinational discussion on restricting killer robots. This meeting holds a major significance for work towards imposing restrictions on killer robots by CCW. As a member of Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, AAR sent its President, Yukie OSA, and Natsuki MATSUMOTO from AAR Tokyo office to the meeting.


Sudan: The Japanese Ambassador visits the Mine Risk Education Project Site

MRE sessions conducted using the original education materials (November 22nd, 2013, Kassala) 
In Sudan, countless landmines were buried during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). There are more than 1,900 victims of landmines and unexploded ordinances (UXOs) in the country, and even after the end of war in 2005, 651 cases of new victims by landmines and UXOs have been reported (as of Mach 2014, Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA)). In addition, the conflict has reignited in southern regions of Blue Nile state and South Kordofan state in 2011, raising the risk ever higher of an increase in causalities from UXOs. Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) develops its original education materials such as posters, flip chart story, and songs and goes around villages to conduct educational sessions about landmines for local residents. Since its start in 2006, approximately 100,000 people have attended the MRE sessions.

In 24th March, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Sudan, Ryoichi HORIE, visited our project site in Kassala state, Eastern Sudan where AAR conducts the mine risk education (MRE) project. For this occasion, AAR Japan, together with local residents, organized an event to introduce the MRE program to the Ambassador. Takashi UJIKAWA of Sudan Office reports.


Cambodia: Providing Pleasure of Going to School for Children with Disabilities

With Try-and-Error Efforts of Teachers

In Cambodia many children with disabilities cannot receive education even after they reach schooling age for various reasons. In Kandal Province, southern Cambodia, AAR Japan has been providing support to enable an increased number of children with disabilities to have access to education since April 2013.  An AAR staff member Tomoko SONODA reports.

To begin with, AAR built and renovated toilets in three primary schools to make them accessible by wheelchairs. It also carried out construction works to improve physical conditions of the schools, such as installing wheelchair ramps and paving walkways within the school grounds.
Pupils of Cheom Saren Primary School with Tomoko SONODA (right) in front of newly paved pathway in the school. (October 14th, 2013)


Emergency Support for South Sudan: Safe Drinking Water Urgently Needed

As many as 26,000 people (as of March 14th) have fled from continuous fighting in South Sudan to Kakuma Refugee Camp in neighboring Kenya. This is a report on the relief activities and the refugees’ lives by Daijo TSUCHIKAWA, an AAR staff member of South Sudan Office, who is responsible for humanitarian aid in the Camp.

Daijo TSUCHIKAWA (to the left), an AAR staff, interviewing the refugees.  (March 12th, 2014)


The Philippines: Helping People Rebuild Their Homes

The devastating typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on November 8th, 2013, affecting more than 16 million victims.  Furthermore, over 1.14 million houses were destroyed or damaged. AAR Japan has been conducting research and providing relief supplies to support these victims, with a focus on providing aid to people with disabilities, who may otherwise be unable to access vital aid. Juri HIROYA (AAR Tokyo office) reports from the severely damaged Tacloban, Leyte Island.

Waste and Debris Scattered Throughout the Town

Tents in the coastal area. Most houses were swept away by the typhoon. (February 7th, 2014.)
In early February I arrived at the airport in Tacloban. The destruction caused by the typhoon is immediately visible. The roof of the terminal still requires repair and the luggage conveyers remain broken, forcing airport staff to screen luggage manually. Despite this difficult circumstance, the airport was quick to reopen to enable vital relief supplies to arrive in the wake of the disaster.
Little improvement has been achieved since my last visit in December, with trees and debris scattered throughout Tacloban. Despite the Philippine Government's attempt to install temporary housing, many people are forced to live in tents or houses which have been patched up with scrap material and plastic sheets.


The Great East Japan Earthquake: The Power of Design – Creating product value from welfare facilities in Northeastern Japan

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, AAR has provided renovation assistance to some 80 welfare facilities which were damaged from the tsunami and earthquake so that persons with disabilities and the elderly would not be left behind in the wave of reconstruction. Although the wages for people working at such facilities were already as low as some 12,000JPY per month before the Earthquake, it has got even lower after the Earthquake, due to the sharp decrease in demand from companies selling their products. In order to address this situation, AAR, in cooperation with the global consulting firm Accenture, has engaged in activities since October 2012 which aim to provide fresh jobs to persons with disabilities working at these welfare facilities and also make their wages higher than the pre-Earthquake level. Ayana KISHIDA from Sendai Office reports.
19,286 people visited Interior Lifestyle Tokyo. Many came to the equalto product booth. (November 7, 2013)


The Great East Japan Earthquake: Providing necessary support, concern for each person’s situation

Three years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. As time passes, the amount of news attention regarding the earthquake is decreasing and it seems that more and more people have come to think of the earthquake as part of the past. However, 274,088 people (as of December, 2013) are still relocating to other places.
Staffs and users of “Katatsumuri”, a welfare facility that we provided a vehicle operating pick-up and drop-off services for people using the facility. (December 26, 2013. Ofunato, Iwate)

Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima, the prefectures where AAR Japan are conducting its activities, are facing various problems such as an aging population, depopulation due to relocation, and the ongoing  situation at nuclear power plants. Those factors are closely intertwined, and can cause longer and uneven setbacks in different areas. Some people have already rebuilt their houses by themselves, while some say that they don’t even know when they will be able to move into newly reconstructed houses and possible have to live in a temporary housing complex for rest of their lives. Even within the same temporary housing complexes, people are facing different problems. It’s necessary to respond to the individual issues.

As time passes, people’s needs have changed. At first, essential daily items such as food or a travelling clinic were in demand, followed by the need for electric appliances as construction on temporary housing complexes began. Then, our support shifted to reconstructing welfare facilities and shopping streets. And now, we are requested to be there to support every single person, and provide a timely and appropriate support that meets each person’s pace of recovery. For the elderly living alone in the temporary housing, we arrange places and opportunities at which they can seek counseling and support. For children living in high-radiation areas, we provide opportunities to play outside to their hearts’ content, without a fear of radiation. For a welfare facility hoping to find a new market, we suggest ideas to develop the market and provide equipment needed for production. We are providing various kinds of support and consultation for each person’s situation and actively make every effort to respond to their needs.
We visit meeting places in temporary housing complexes to provide massages service and active listening.
Left: Kazuya OMURO of AAR, Physiotherapist
(December 8, 2013 Ishinomaki, Miyagi)
Thank you to the continuous donation and assistance from both at home and abroad, victims of the earthquake have been able to start their new lives. One of the staff members of the welfare facility which we provided a vehicle and office equipment mentioned the positive attitude of a person with disability by telling the following story; He seldom went out before, but recently he began to come to our facility. His family told me that they heard him happily saying, “I’ve just come back from work (welfare facility)!”.

On the other hand, Ekuko YOKOYAMA of AAR Soma office, who has been conducting counseling and other related activities at the temporary housing complex, says, “Deeply affected by shock and sorrow, time has essentially stood still for many people since they lost their loved ones in the earthquake, and they have not been able to take the next step forward.” Three years is not enough time to heal the deep emotional wounds, so we still need to help them cope with their sorrow and anxiety.

To deliver your kindness and to reduce the number of people left behind from the recovery, we, the staff of AAR Tohoku office, visit disaster-stricken areas lying under the snowy sky today.
We deeply appreciate your thoughtful and continuous support.

Reported by: Akiko KATO, Representative of Tohoku Office
Ms. Kato had worked at Tokyo office since April 2010 and engaged in projects mainly related to Haiti and Zambia. Since March 2011, she has engaged in supporting project of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Since April 2013, she has been supervising this project as a representative of Tohoku Office. After graduating university, she worked for a private sector. And then studied social development at graduate school in the U.K. She joined AAR after working at a governmental research institution and a diplomatic mission. Originally from Tokyo.  (profile as of the date of the article)


South Sudan Emergency Aid: The Urgent Need for Water at Kakuma Refugee Camp

Since December 2013, the war in South Sudan has raged on and the turmoil continues. Many continue to flee into the into neighboring Kenya, where the Kakuma refugee camp is located. From February 3rd to the 8th, Naoki UMEDA and Daijo TSUCHIKAWA were AAR Japan's staff on the ground, sent to give emergency assistance and conduct research. Despite the swelling number of refugees, the camp suffers from severe water shortages. This is UMEDA reporting.

People Going Without Water in Severe Heat

AAR Japan's Naoki UMEDA (right) listening to details from a local aid group (Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. February 4th, 2014.)
From February 2nd, ongoing talks with both refugees and aid workers have made it clear that the need for water is the most urgent issue at hand.
Since December 15th last year, the number of South Sudanese who have arrived in Kakuma has already reached 14,000 <UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), 2014/2/5> . Many have endured a long journey, only to arrive and find they will likely receive below 10 liters of water on average per day, per person. In contrast, a single Japanese person uses around 300 liters per day (according to figures from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism), making the daily available amount in Kakuma only 1/30 to that of Japan. It is this small amount that must be used for everything from drinking water, to cooking and washing.


South Sudan: “I want to go to school by any means.” Education, the Hope at Refugee Camp

Because of continuous disorder caused by civil war in South Sudan since December 2013, more and more people have fled to Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, a neighboring country of South Sudan. In order to provide emergency assistance, Naoki UMEDA and Daiki TSUCHIKAWA, AAR staff members in South Sudan, visited the site on February 3rd to conduct a field survey. Despite increasing numbers of refugees, water supply is acutely inadequate at the camp. There also arises another problem of insufficient education for the children. Daiki TSUCHIKAWA reports on the latest situation.

Refugees are on the increase, but schools are insufficient

About 100,000 refugees from neighboring countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, as well as South Sudan live in Kakuma Refugee Camp which was founded in 1992. Since many of the refugees are unable to return to their home countries, schools have been set up for these children. There are 6 nursery schools, 17 elementary schools, and 5 junior high schools in the camp. However, due to an influx of new refugees from South Sudan, they urgently need more schools.
Considering this situation, LWF (Luther World Federation), an international NGO, set up a new school at Kakuma Refugee Camp. On February 3rd, under the 5 tents provided by UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund), around 1,700 children ranging from kindergarten to 3rd grade of elementary school are studying in this new school. However, there’s no desks or chairs, only some mats on the ground. Although the number of children is expected to grow, the school has almost reached its capacity and children over 4th grade of elementary school are not accepted into the school.
5 tents are used as a school. However the school has almost reached its enrolment limit due to capacity constraints.
(Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)

More schools and educational equipment, such as tents, strong enough to withstand sandstorms, and desks are in need for the growing numbers of children. The tents currently being used for schools are not strong enough and a lot of sand comes into the classroom. Although there are neither blackboards nor desks, the children are still anxious to study under the tough circumstances.
There are 17 teachers in the new school and they are all refugees. Former teachers and other dedicated people voluntarily teach the children. (Daiki TSUCHIKAWA (right) AAR staff: Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)

Children gathering in the new “school”, which is a tent with no equipment. They are taking a lesson without any chairs or desks. (Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)


Provide a place to study for youth, who have been robbed of their ordinary lives

Joseph is an 18 year old former soldier and a Nuer. He took part in the recent battle and while he was patrolling in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, he witnessed the soldiers of Dinka, the opponent ethic group, killing Nuer residents without hesitation. This convinced him that it was just a matter of time before he would be killed. Then, he threw away his weapon and escaped immediately. He changed buses and finally managed to reach Kakuma Refugee Camp. He said, “I’m glad that the public safety is maintained and nobody own firearms at the camp. I'm going to go to school.”
At Kakuma Refugee Camp, I encountered a number of young people who are eager to receive education. A boy in his late teens said, “In my hometown, I looked after cattle and goats and had no options for schooling. But I don’t have any livestock here. I want to start studying from the 1st grade of elementary school.”  A boy of 18 said, “I lost my parents and relatives in this battle and I came to the camp all by myself. I cannot tell what will happen to me, but I do want to go to school by any means.” Having education is a hope at the refugee camp not only for small children but also for young people who have been robbed of their ordinary lives.

Children gathering around AAR staff, Naoki Umeda after their class. (Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)

AAR plans to continue its survey and provide refugees with much needed assistance such as water supply and educational support, coordinating with other humanitarian organizations so as not to duplicate the support. Activity reports will be updated on the AAR website. We appreciate your support.

We are collecting emergency donations.

Your support is greatly appreciated.
Click here to donate online.

Daiki TUCHIKAWA AAR JAPAN South Sudan Office (profile as of the date of the article)
Started working at AAR in October 2012. He has been dispatched to South Sudan since April 2013. After graduating from a university, he worked as a system engineer and senior high school teacher. Afterwards, majored development study at graduate school in Australia. Born in Iwate Prefecture and grew up in India.

Radio drama capturing the fear of landmines and UXOs airs in Sudan

Landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) from the civil war put people's lives at risk even after the conflict's end Until all the remaining landmines are cleared, AAR dedicates itself to educating the people in Sudan, Afghanistan, and Laos so that those living in landmine-affected areas will not become victims of such weapons. We advise them on how best to avoid becoming involved in landmine-related accidents in their daily lives, and what to do when they come across landmines or UXO, taking into consideration the local customs and values. Here is a report from Ms. Harumi Kawagoe, an AAR staff from Khartoum Office in Sudan.

Original teaching materials reflecting a variety of cultural aspects

People in Sudan have been tormented by the countless landmines and UXO planted and dropped during the civil war lasting for more than 20 years. Since 2006,AAR has visited many villages, providing information sessions with our original teaching materials such as posters, flip charts, and songs.  As of January 31, 2014, we have reached 88,483 people in Sudan and raised awareness of the risks and threat of landmines and UXOs. For the local people to have better understanding of these sessions, we have created our own teaching materials that are compatible with the customs and cultures in the area. Before we begin to deliver these sessions, we conduct interviews with local people and children in the target area to find out their awareness level of their own culture as well as the risks of landmines and UXOs, and the results are reflected in our material development.
"We were anxious to find out what would become of Yasir," said the children who listened to the prototype of our radio drama. They enjoyed the content. (Kassala, February 2013)


South Sudan: Conducting Research at a Refugee Camp

In South Sudan, fighting triggered by political conflict has persisted since December 2013. As a result of the fighting between the ethnic groups of Kiir's Dinka and Nuer, thousands have been killed, 700,000 have been internally displaced, and 130,000 have fled abroad. <UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) 2014/2/3>

With an aim to provide emergency assistance, Naoki UMEDA and Daijo TSUCHIKAWA from AAR’s South Sudan office have been conducting research since February 3 at the Kakuma refugee camp.  Located in the northwest of Kenya, it has been flooded with refugees. This report is written by Naoki UMEDA.

Established in 1992, the Kakuma refugee camp is the largest refugee camp in the world with approximately 100,000 refugees. Buses operated by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) arrive at Kakuma camp daily with refugees who have fled to Nadapal, Kenya, located along the South Sudan border. 

On average, the camp accepts 400 refugees daily. After taking vaccines and completing refugee registration in Nadapal, the refugees are then taken to Kakuma by bus, where they spend the first night at the temporary tent area beside the reception center. 

New arrivals are given some food, a mat and a blanket to spend the first night at this temporary accommodation (Kakuma, Kenya, February 3rd, 2014) 


Emergency Assistance following Typhoon in the Philippines: Regaining workplace for persons with disabilities

On November 8th, 2013, the Philippines was struck by the fierce Typhoon Haiyan (locally know as Yolanda). 
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) has deployed its staff members to the affected site since November 14th and has been carrying out humanitarian aid activities such as food distribution and provision of building materials to rebuild houses. As of this date, 2 staff members are based in Cebu City, Cebu Province and are continuously assisting on reconstruction.

Workshop for persons with disabilities submerged under water

Tacloban People with Disabilities Cooperative (TAPDICO), located in Tacloban City, northeast of Leyte Island, is one of the facilities that suffered heavy damage following Typhoon Haiyan. The Cooperative, whose mission is to promote the self-reliance of persons with disabilities, owns a small furniture workshop on the hillside of Tacloban and was manufactures furniture such as desks and chairs for elementary schools. Out of 35 employees, approximately 80% are persons with disabilities.
On the day of the typhoon, vast amounts of rain water flooded in from the upper side of the mountain and the workshop was submerged. Machinery used for manufacturing furniture was damaged and most of the materials became unusable.

Iron pipes for furniture material (pictured right rear) had been rendered unusable from rust. Ms. Yemarin, the Representative of the Cooperative meets with (pictured right) Mr. Noriyasu OKAYAMA of AAR (pictured left) (December 22nd, 2013)

At the workshop, parts of roof had been blown away and many of the machines had become unusable after being submerged. Ms. Jyuli HIROYA of AAR inspecting the damage (December 22nd, 2013)

“Thank you. Now we can reopen the workshop.”

AAR has assisted on rebuilding the workshop. On December 29th, 2013, we delivered four machines that are indispensable to the manufacturing of desks and chairs (Compressor (compress the air to be utilized as power source for the tools), welding machine, motor, and electrical saw), as well as raw materials such as lumber to be used in manufacturing ordered items for the time being. The representative, Ms. Yemarin, says she had received offers after the typhoon to go work in Manila, thus closing the workshop, but had been searching for a means to reopen the workshop and continue to work with the facility. She had told us “(I am) truly thankful to all your support.”

With new machinery delivered, the workshop will once again come to life. Noriyasu OKAYAMA pictured left. In the center of the photo, Ms. Yemarin in orange shirt. The two people to the right are staff members of the Cooperative. Machinery from the left: compressor, motor, cutter, welding machine (December 29th, 2013)
The work has begun with the supplied machinery. Workshop staff cutting iron pipe using the cutter (January 14th, 2014)

The workshop makes schools chairs such as these shown in the photo. Welding machine supplied by AAR Japan, pictured center back. (January 14th, 2014).
AAR will continue to support and work in Leyte Island and the northern parts of Cebu Island with a focus on persons with disabilities in activities such as the provision of reconstruction materials.

【Reporter】Profile as of the date of article publication

Jyuli HIROYA, Tokyo Office
Worked as an Intern in Kenya with an NGO after graduating from university. Joined AAR Japan in January 2009, after working in the private sector. Worked as part of a team in Emergency Assistance for Typhoon in the Philippines in September, 2009. Was stationed in Southern Sudan from June 2012 to September 2013. Currently in Tokyo headquarter and is responsible for operations in the Philippines and Kenya. (Born in Kanagawa Province)


Haiti: River is turning into a garbage dump! Raising public awareness of sanitation

AAR Japan started its assistance in Haiti soon after the massive earthquake hit the country in January 2010, and its operation are still ongoing. Since February 2013, we have equipped latrines and fitted hand-washing stations at schools, together with organizing training workshops for school teachers on hygiene education as well as for schoolmasters and administration staff on school management. Our intention is to prevent the spread of cholera in Haiti, where half the number of cholera infections in the world is believed to exist.
In the long perspective, we aim to involve local residents and improve the hygiene conditions of the entire community.  Ryota Hirama from AAR’s Haiti office reports.

River is crucial for the local residents

The target area of AAR’s activity is Rivière Froid in the Carrefour region, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, the capital city. Rivière Froid means “cold river” in English. As the name suggests, a river flows in the middle of this area.

It is said that the name of the river comes from the fact that rivers are very important for Haitian people, as they are used to cool down their bodies. The river is one of the most important water sources for people in the area. When we pass through the neighborhood, we see a lot of women washing clothes along the riverside. A girl once told us that she was going for a shower when she was on her way  to the river. The river is indeed attached to Haitian people’s everyday lives.
The river is essential for the life of people in Haiti.


The Great East Japan Earthquake: We Hosted an Overnight Camp to Keep Kids Active

AAR Japan hosted the "Nishi-Aizu Kids Wonderland Academy" for children and their guardians from the Hamadori area in Fukushima who have not been able to play outside due to the high level of radiation. Starting from July 2011, this overnight camp event has aimed to provide the participating children and their parents with an opportunity to play outside, give them a chance to release stress and allow them to have fun, physical exercise. Junko MATSUURA from Tokyo office provided a report from the 8th camp held from November 2-3, 2013.

Day One: Tons of fun events. "Soon we became friends"

In addition to the children and their families coming from the City of Soma in Fukushima, we also invited participation from local children from the town of Nishi-Aizu to interact with them. The two-day event was attended by 12 families – 35 children and their parents in total – and filled with smiles and joys.