Kumamoto Earthquakes: Toys for the children

 Toys to comfort children

AAR Japan visited Kumamoto City Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai, a social welfare organization and a network of guardians of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities on May 20th. According to the staff of Kumamoto City Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai, many of the homes registered with the organization have been affected by the earthquake. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities often times have difficulty adapting to changes in the environment and, as a result, suffer from severe psychological stress. Since guardians of such children need to be more attentive to the needs of their children, they do not have sufficient time to clean their homes and collect information required to reestablish their lives. As such, guardians also suffer from increased psychological stress.
With the hopes of providing children with comfort, AAR Japan supplied toys such as puzzles and bubble toys and 50 sets of DVDs. Toys that children are familiar are most effective at reducing psychological stress. With the help of Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai, AAR Japan distributed toys that suit each child’s character to each home. “The toys not only make children happy, but also reduce the burden on their guardians,” employees of Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai said.

Te Wo Tsunagu Ikusei Kai employees, Chiaki Furukawa (AAR Japan staff, second person from the left in the back row), and Takumi Takagi (AAR Japan staff, person on the right in the front row). (May 20th, 2016)]


Kumamoto Earthquakes: Rebuilding social welfare centers

 Nowhere to go but to half-collapsed welfare centers

Since April 15th, the day after the earthquakes rocked Kumamoto prefecture, AAR Japan’s emergency response team has been delivering aid. At the moment, the emergency response team is visiting remote welfare centers to listen to the needs of survivors, distribute much-needed aid products, and support the rebuilding of facilities.
Soyokaze Welfare Center, a center for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the town of Mashiki, was severely damaged by the earthquake. The ground remains cracked open and the landlord ordered Soyokaze to clear the area, so it is required to move to new premises. Many of Soyokaze Welfare Center employees and users have been affected by the earthquake and relocated to evacuation centers. Persons with mental or psychological disabilities struggle to adapt to communal living at evacuation centers and therefore take shelter in tents pitched in gardens or half-collapsed homes. Some Soyokaze Welfare Center employees continue to take shelter in automobile vehicles. On May 4th, AAR Japan delivered 4 boxes of disinfectant spray, 4 boxes of refills for disinfectant spray, 4 boxes of disinfectant sprays for hands, and 4 boxes of refills of disinfectant sprays for hands donated by Office Dewi Sukarno; and 5 massage machines donated by CATALOGHOUSE Ltd. “Our bodies have become tense from spending many days living in our cars. These massage machines help alleviate the pain,” survivors said.

“These massage machines help alleviate the pain from spending many days living in cars,” survivors of
Soyokaze Welfare Center said. Takumi Takagi (AAR Japan staff, Right) (May 4th, 2016)


Kumamoto Earthquakes: One month passed. Listening to the voices of those unheard

Standing by each of the survivors

Since April 15, the day after the earthquakes rocked Kumamoto prefecture, AAR Japan’s emergency response team collaborated with The Peace Project (an NPO represented by AAR Japan’s board member Ben Kato) to operate soup kitchens. As of May 8, the organizations conducted 34 soup kitchens and distributed 17,730 meals with plenty of vegetables such as pot-au-feu and tonjiru (pork and vegetable soup). As of May 8, AAR Japan delivered aid to 5 evacuation centers (in Kumamoto City, Aso City, town of Mashiki, and village of Nishi Hara) and 11 welfare centers (in Kumamoto City, village of Nishi Hara, village of South Aso, town of Ōzu, town of Mifune, town of Mashiki, and town of Kashima).
Survivors continue to live as evacuees even after one month since the earthquake. The survivors’ needs change daily.

AAR Japan draws upon 2 lessons from its past experiences with emergency response in Japan and in foreign countries: “Anticipated response” and “Listen to the voices of those unheard.” Examples of the former include providing adult diapers while other organizations focus on distributing baby diapers and providing sanitary products to evacuation centers where evacuees walk around in facilities with their shoes on. Examples of the latter include providing appropriate aid to the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWDs) who are less accessible. Many elderly and PWDs take shelter at facilities that they are accustomed to visiting because evacuation centers for the general public do not accommodate their needs. Among elderly/PWD welfare facilities, there are some that only provide day services and are therefore not built to host persons overnight. AAR Japan visits these facilities to conduct needs assessment and deliver necessary food items, sanitary products, and household goods.

Although emergency aid is no longer required, some welfare facilities still struggle to identify its needs, so there is a need to actively conduct detailed needs assessment at each of those facilities. An 83-year-old lady at the Ikoi no Sato welfare center (currently being utilized as an evacuation center) of the town of Mashiki said, “My house did not collapse, but was significantly damaged. I cannot clear the house by myself. I have not been able to get proper sleep because I fear the continuing aftershocks. My hip is weak and the mattress at evacuation center is worsening my lower-back pain.”

Since AAR Japan has been working closely with other support organizations, we were able to immediately communicate the needs to IMC (International Medical Corps), a professional medical association. IMC dispatched 4 nurses to Ikoi no Sato. Until AAR Japan’s visit, one government official had been managing Ikoi no Sato by himself, so he was appreciative when AAR Japan conducted a detailed needs assessment and coordinated with organizations with the proper expertise.

AAR Japan remains committed to conducting needs assessment by to listening closely to the voices of each evacuee.

In addition to many thanks for all the support, our relief activities of Kumamoto earthquake during April were supported by the donation from Mercy Relief.

Chiaki Furukawa (AAR Japan staff, right) listens to the 83-year-old lady’s needs
at the Ikoi no Sato welfare center. (May 8th, 2016)

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Account: @aarjapan  http://twitter.com/aarjapan
Please contact Natori (Ms.) and Yamada (Ms.) for further inquiry.
TEL: +81-3-5423-4511
FAX: +81-3-5423-4450


Kenya: Opening up a career with education

South Sudan has been mired in civil war since December 2013. Despite moves toward peace, some 640,000 refugees have escaped to surrounding countries, with a fresh wave of 50,000 fleeing to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in the neighboring country of Kenya. It has been two years and six months since armed conflict started in South Sudan. In addition to food, water, medicine and other life-supporting supplies, the situation now calls for assistance with a view to both the medium- and long-term future of refugees who have no prospect of returning to their home country. AAR Japan, which has been active in the Kakuma Refugee Camp since 2014 in assisting its water supplies, constructing a pediatric ward and other areas, is now helping to provide secondary education inside the Camp.

Vision Secondary School constructed by AAR Japan
 (All photographs shown here were taken at Kakuma Refugee Camp on April 5th, 2016)