Zambia: Local Volunteers Supporting Mobile Health Clinics

To save pregnant women and their babies in medically remote areas in Zambia, it is necessary to detect abnormalities or other dangerous signs at an early stage, provide first aid, and send pateients to an appropriate medical center as promptly as possible. Because there are not enough medical workers in  villages dotted across the vast country, local volunteers in these communities play an important role in assisting mobile clinics operated by midwives sent by the Ministry of Health, Zambia. AAR Japan, which has been running a project to protect maternal and child health in Chisankane, Kafue District since February 2016, gave local volunteers a training seminar for maternal and child health from October 31st to November 5th, 2017.  

Training Seminar for Maternal and Child Health   

A total of 50 volunteers were initially selected from among 100 local volunteers as a “group for the promotion of safe delivery.” Then, 25 group members took part in  AAR Japan’s first training seminar for maternal and child health. These members were selected with consideration of a mixture of different hometowns and trust relationships between volunteers and communities. The aim of the training is to have local volunteers acquire knowledge and skills for maternal and child health, including recognizing dangerous signs during pregnancy, as well as providing information on breastfeeding benefits and how to check and treat illness in newborns.

                          Role-playing an actual situation, role-playing exercises were carried out 
                        on November 4th, 2017. The left is Daisuke KANAMORI from AAR Japan.

As some local volunteers cannot read or write, the training adopts role-playing exercises with picture cards so that everybody can easily understand the lessons. For example, assuming a postpartum bleeding situation, volunteers learned procedures from giving first aid for stopping bleeding and promoting adequate hydration, to sending the patient to a medical center. Participants also practiced how to place the pregnant woman in order to wrap a cloth as a temporary treatment, following their instructor’s direction. The volunteers have committed themselves fully for the training.
Other training incorporated the benefits of using five senses such as singing, dancing and gesturing with traditional songs in Zambia. These attempts   also help illiterate participants learn and remember the lessons more easily. In the last day of the training session, we carried out a skill test to check their understanding. As a result, all of the participants successfully completed the training, getting much higher scores than those for the preliminary test carried out on the first day. 

                                                Test for treatment of postpartum bleeding

                Training materials include lots of pictures and illustrations for illiterate volunteers.

                                        Local volunteers listening to lectures with serious eyes.

The group members for the promotion of safe delivery in Chisankane will play important roles for recognizing and analyzing issues specific to their areas of responsibility, and for finding solutions for maternal and child health challenges. One of training participants, Mr. Mutonji, expressed his enthusiasm; “I didn’t know what to do when a pregnant woman or her baby was in a critical condition. This training taught me how to treat them. In my village, I’ll definitely share what I have learned here so that we can help more mothers and babies. “

AAR Japan will continue to hold training sessions for maternal and child health, and working on protection of mothers and babies in cooperation with local volunteers.
In addition to public donations, this activity has been subsidized by the Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects by MOFA

Daisuke KANAMORI, Lusaka Office since November 2016 
 Born in Yamaguchi, Japan. After graduating from university, he joined support activities for Tohoku earthquake affected areas while working in a private company. Then, he studied the reconstruction after the civil war in Rwanda at a graduate course in U.K and then learned French in France. He joined AAR Japan with an aspiration of doing something he can do in this society as a Japanese. He hopes to improve rates of the high maternal and neonatal mortality in Zambia. He enjoys playing football and futsal games. (Profile as of the date of the article)

Translated by: Ms. Satomi Tomishima
Proof reading by: Mr. Allan Richarz


The Great East Earthquake: Victims living in different situations mutually support each other

Disaster victims from Fukushima prefecture had a pleasant time on the Sunday afternoon of September 10th, in Musashino, Tokyo. They had evacuated from Fukushima and are taking shelter in and around the city. It was “Musashino Smile,” an organization which supports the evacuees, that organized the gathering, with assistance from AAR Japan. A total of 28 people participated. Junnko Matsuo, the person who organized the gathering, said, “It is difficult for some of the victims to attend a weekday party, so I planned a holiday lunch party so that more people can attend and enjoy a time of chatting.” The participants had an enjoyable time talking about recent happenings in their lives for about three hours over a buffet-style lunch. It was a superb lunch full of lively conversations.
Disaster victims from Fukushima prefecture having a pleasant time on an early Sunday afternoon.(10th, Sep. 2017)


The Great East Japan Earthquake:The Newly-built Katatsumuri, A Social Welfare Facility is now Completed

The previous Social Welfare Facility was lost in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake

 A social welfare facility, Katatsumuri, (“Katatsumuri means “snails” in Japanese) was founded in 2001 by approximately 20 families of children with intellectual disabilities. Initially, they rented an old structure in the vicinity of the seaport of Ohfunato City, Iwate Prefecture, and held various events such as tea parties and excursions. As well, the families undertook campaigns promoting access to helpful lifestyle advice and information among participants to create a valuable space for children in addition to their schools.
Staff members and users of Katatsumuri who
started apple-cultivation with aids from AAR Japan,
being accompanied by Akiko KATO (Left, AAR Japan).
(January 2015)


The Great East Japan Earthquake: For those who have no place to go…Opened after clearing the woods

Lavorare Pecore, a type-B support centre for ongoing employment, began its operations on July 29th in the town of Murone, Ichinoseki city, Iwate Prefecture. It is administered by the “Homare no kai” association. Despite the rain, approximately 100 project members and community locals attended the opening ceremony, which was complemented by an elegant harp concert. Lavorare Pecore is a facility surrounded by nature with an extensive area of almost 1 hectare, or 2.45 acres. It was a long and hard road before Lavorare Pecore was able to begin its operations.

Overwhelmingly insufficient number of facilities
The four board members of the “Homare no kai” are all from Kesennuma city and survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake. They had engaged in supporting people with disabilities for many years. While the four of them worked in a consultation office, they realized that there were not enough places who would receive victims whom had suffered from the earthquake or received abuse by their family members. Many of them had nowhere to go because their conditions did not fulfill the criteria of existing facilities. Thus, the members of “Homare no kai” felt those services were limited. It was then that they were approached by an earthquake survivor who ran a landscaping business. As he was going to close down his business, he offered for them to use his land and house in Murone. The four members all agreed immediately to establish a new place for those who were having difficulties finding a facility.

An image illustrated by Mr. SUGAWARA, a representative of the board who is also a certified landscape designer. In this illustration, he expresses his hope that all residents will live happily and in peace for the rest of their lives.

However, with little funding, the operation hit a rough patch. Having only the four board members to clear the dense woods in the area, as well as restore the house whose floor had fallen through from a leaky roof, was very challenging and made them feel discouraged on many occasions. But, each time they remembered the faces of those who are not accepted by any facility they were motivated to overcome their struggles, finally opening a group home in November, 2016. They were convinced that there were still more needs to be satisfied and came to the decision to launch this support center.
After being referred by Mr. Ryuichi MIURA of Japan Platform, Tohoku office, AAR Japan provided a part of the costs connected to the construction of the building (the photo on the right). AARJ Japan also provided full funding for the plumbing, transportation of the arbor and garden planter, as well as donating the kitchen equipment. All of this was done with the assistance of AEON 1% Club Foundation.
This arbor and garden planter were transported here from the former temporary housing at Hiraishi elementary school. (July 29th, 2017)

For the time being, the plan for the newly opened type B center “Lavorare Pecore” is to prepare dishes with seasonal vegetables and local specialties, herd sheep and cultivate the seedlings of fruits, vegetables and flowers. They also aim to process and sell their wool or fruit products. The members hope that by interacting with animals and plants in nature, the residents and service users will gradually gain emotional stability and improve “their strength to live” in society. Moreover, making good use of their hectare of land (2.45 acres), they are aiming to not only be engaged in farming and produce specialties, but also to expand their business to distribution and sale. A mobile store to extend the outreach of “Lavorare Pecore” products to one-person households, elderly households and people in areas with little access to supermarkets is also being considered.
“Lavorare Pecore” means “a working sheep” in Italian. This is a photo of a farm located on the premises. They are aiming for production, processing, sale and distribution. (July 29th, 2017)

※This activity is operated with the assistance of Aeon 1% Club Foundation.

[Reporter] profile as of the date of the article
Shinichiro OHARA, AAR Japan Sendai office
Ohara joined AAR Japan in August 2011 after working in a manufacturing company. Based in Sendai, he visits affected areas such as Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima on a daily basis and is engaged in reconstruction assistance. He was born in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.

Japanese-English translation by Ms.Yukari Onda
English editing by Ms. Alice Chee

This article has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Japan's 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. 


Vulnerability Multiplied in Syria—Report on the Survivors of Explosive Devices—

AAR Japan, an international NGO, has conducted assessment on the survivors of the conflict inside Syria and published this report, Vulnerability Multiplied in Syria – Report on the Survivors of Explosive Devices –, which makes 6 proposals.

Assessment for this report was conducted over the course of 2016 in cooperation with a Syrian NGO, Hand in Hand for Syria, which began by identifying patients and former patients of medical facilities in northern Syria and entailed interviews with 2,036 survivors of the conflict including 475 children. The result revealed that the majority, 57%, of the survivors were victims of air strikes, followed by other explosive devices (22%) such as landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), and improvised explosive devices (IED). In addition, many of the survivors sustained severe injuries and impairments including amputation, visual and hearing impairments in addition to fractures and wounds, resulting in a high level of dependency in activities of daily life like eating, toilet, washing, and dressing.

Furthermore, given the health care system decimated in the conflict, many of these survivors do not have access to adequate medical care, rehabilitation services, or assistive devices. In addition to the physical and psychological burden on the survivors themselves, in the absence of functioning social welfare system, providing assistance in every step of daily life places an enormous burden on the family members as well, not to mention the significant economic impact in case of severe injuries and impairments of main breadwinners of the household.

Based on these findings, AAR Japan proposes the following to aid organizations working in Syria and donor countries, corporations, and individuals that provide indirect support to humanitarian aid in Syria.

1.    Include provision of rehabilitation services and assistive devices in the intervention in consideration of the conflict survivors;
2.    Help build local capacities, local organizations and volunteers working in Syria, to be able to provide rehabilitation and trauma response through training and financial support;
3.    Enhance food security and livelihood support to those who lost jobs due to injuries and impairments;
4.    Improve referral mechanisms across sectors in order to provide comprehensive support to the injured who are particularly vulnerable;
5.    Conduct awareness raising activities to reduce stigma and combat the loss of dignity particularly by the injured;
6.    Adapt the contents of risk education to reflect the context of the ongoing Syrian conflict to maximize the effect.


Great East Japan Earthquake: Organizations that Support Voluntary Evacuees

6,000 Evacuees Live in Tokyo

Even though 6 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, there remain approximately 109,000 individuals requiring assistance, who evacuated their home town as a result of the impact of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. Of these, approximately 6,000 evacuees live in Tokyo (Reconstruction Agency, April 28, 2017). AAR Japan (Association for Aid and Relief) has been providing various forms of aid since immediately after the earthquake hit, and recently partnered with Musashino Smile, to begin providing aid to the evacuees who reside in Tokyo. Musashino Smile is an organization represented by Ms. Megumi Okada (picture below), an evacuee who fled from Fukushima city to Tokyo with her children, and is supported by various Tokyo-resident volunteers. On April 28, Musashino Smile hosted a “Yoransho Salon,” an event to encourage evacuees to visit and engage in light conversations over tea (picture to the right). “Yoransho” is a word from Fukushima that means “please stop by.” 16 evacuees from Fukushima and other areas participated in the event to exchange information and share updates.

Yoransho Salon was held at Musashino city, an evacuation destination for many evacuees. Yoransho Salon occurs once a month. (April 28th, 2017)


Zambia: Supporting the New Life of “Former Refugees”

AAR Japan has conducted relief activities in Zambia since 1984, for 33 years, when a widespread famine in Africa attracted worldwide attention. At the beginning, its support activities in medical, educational, agricultural and other fields were based in Meheba in the North-Western Province where many Angolan refugees sought shelter after fleeing the civil war in their home country. After many refugees returned home following the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002, AAR Japan moved the base of its subsequent activities to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia and its environs. Since then, it has provided assistance to people who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS, as the issue became a serious problem at that time, and strengthened health services for mothers and children in farming villages where people have little or no access to medical services.

In March 2017, AAR Japan reopened its office in Meheba and launched activities to assist the joint efforts to build a community by the citizens of Zambia and “former refugees” from Angola who decided to settle in Zambia rather than returning to their home country.
Atsushi NAOE of AAR Japan visits households in the site (April 2017)


The Kumamoto Earthquake, One Year Later: Applying Lessons from the Disaster in Providing Aid

It has been nearly a year since the Kumamoto Earthquakes. During the earthquakes, the town of Mashiki and the village of Nishihara experienced two magnitude 7 earthquakes, and in the village of Minamiaso, the Aso-bridge collapsed due to a large-scale landslide. As of November 30th of last year, 4,165 additional earthquakes, which could be felt, had been recorded. The number of casualties, including 150 earthquake-related deaths, rose to 205 (Kumamoto Prefecture Crisis Management Disaster Prevention Division Announcement, March 3rd, report). Moreover, at its peak there were over 180,000 evacuees and 855 evacuation centers. Since the disaster, AAR Japan has been distributing meals and basic necessities and up to now has been providing aid to a social welfare facilities for people with disabilities and to those in temporary residences.

Rebuilding a Vital Place in the Village

During this earthquake, there were supply and staff shortages at the evacuation centers that were established to accommodate those who require special care, such as those with disabilities and the elderly. In addition, temporary residences had not been designed to be wheelchair accessible. It made us recognize again how easy it is for people with disabilities and the elderly to be put into difficult situations in times of disaster. Because of this, AAR Japan has focused on providing aid to people with disabilities, by supporting local organizations which work with people with disabilities and who are leading recovery efforts in  the region.

In Nishihara Village, 60% of the houses were completely or partially destroyed. Nishihara Tanpopo (Dandelion) House, a NPO near the village office, is the only social welfare facilities of its kind where people with disabilities go to process crops and prepare and sell bentos (lunch box) and snacks. During the day, it is a cafeteria filled with locals, and is a place where those facing economic hardships can enjoy a meal with others whilst lending a hand to the center.  It has become a central entity, a vital place in the village.
Even after the earthquake, the house has become an evacuation center for those disabled persons and staff who frequented, in addition to acting as a point from which supplies and meals could be distributed to nearby regions.
Tanpopo House’s cafeteria has a rich menu, including ramen and curry. (Jun.24th,2016)


Sudan: April 4th, International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance, Overcoming injuries related to landmines

Even after the large scale civil war between south and north Sudan, conflicts continue especially in areas such as Western Darfur. Many landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) are still left in many areas, resulting in accidents every year. In 2015 alone, 33 people were killed and 71 were injured in various parts of the country. Although the government started taking measures against landmine activity in earnest, it had to suspend its assistance of landmine victims in 2012 due to budgetary constraints and a need to focus on the clearance of mines/UXOs.

AAR Japan has been working on mine risk education to protect people from the dangers of mines and UXOs. Since July of last year, it has conducted support activities to assist victims in Kassala in east Sudan, which is one of the most severely affected regions of mines and UXOs. Support is largely divided into three groups; (1) Providing artificial legs, tricycles, and rehabilitation. (2) Assistance of mine victims to restore their previous lives in terms of their earnings and relationship with the community. (3) Drawing up national strategies to assist mine victims.

At present, there are no reliable statistics as to how many victims there are in Sudan. When starting our assistance, we collected information on 396 people by frequently visiting the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Disabled People Organization, and the Mine Action Center. Then, based on a variety of criterion, such as an aptitude to receive rehabilitation and past history of assistance, we selected 35 people with a particular focus on those affected by landmine activity.

Pleasant and Proud Life with Artificial Legs, Carefree Outing on a Tricycle

Artificial legs and tricycles were provided through the National Authority of Prosthetics and Orthotics in Kassala and physical therapists were employed and dispatched by AAR, as there were no qualified persons at the Center. Khalid Ahmed Osman (age 41, left in the picture), a former truck driver, is one of the five receivers of artificial legs. When driving his truck two years ago, it passed over an anti-vehicle landmine. His life was saved but he had to have his left leg amputated. Since then he had to walk on crutches, and even when he went to the market, he couldn’t work properly. As a result, he was regarded as an impediment and was heckled by other people, which was very difficult for him to bear. When I first met him, he was worried what other people would think of him, and looked timid and nervous as if someone was going to slander him. But when I met him three months later, he was accustomed to using his new artificial leg and was walking steadily. What impressed me most was that he had restored his confidence and he had a cheerful and proud expression on his face.
Khalid Ahmed Osman (left) is getting a mold made for his artificial leg. When I met him three months later, his facial expression was quite different (Kassala State, Sudan; following pictures were all taken at Kassala, December 13th, 2016)


Haiti: Ending seven years of relief efforts for those affected and persons with disabilities

As of January 2017, AAR Japan has concluded all of its relief activities in Haiti.
In January 2010, Haiti was devastated by a catastrophic magnitude 7 earthquake. In response, AAR dispatched an emergency assistance team. AAR established an office in the capital Port-au-Prince, delivering food supplies and engaging in various projects, such as the rebuilding of child care facilities and facilities for persons with disabilities (PWDs), promotional activities for hygiene, and inclusive education. 
In April 2016, seven years after the quake, the office in Port-au-Price was closed, but our work with inclusive education continued in collaboration with local organizations. Then in October 2016, Hurricane Mathew caused a tremendous amount of damage to the country, prompting AAR Japan to take action and dispatch its emergency assistance team once again to support those who were affected. As of January 2017, all of the organization’s work with promoting inclusive education and supporting victims of Hurricane Mathew were completed and thus our activities in Haiti had come to an end. The following is a report of AAR’s activities and its results which were made possible by your support.

1. Assistance for those affected by the catastrophic earthquake (January-June, 2010) 

On January 12th, 2010 (local time), a strong magnitude 7 earthquake struck the Republic of Haiti.
Even before the earthquake, Haiti had long been considered the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. As it turned out, the impact was devastating as a result of various combining factors; the earthquake having directly struck the highly populated capital, the sheer scale of the earthquake itself, and a fragile social structure due to the country’s volatile political situation. In light of this situation, AAR sent an emergency assistance team to the ground on January 25th, consisting of 4 staff members from our Tokyo Office, which distributed emergency relief packages, waterproof sheets and other aid items to 13,400 households overall (approx. 67,000 persons) by April 2010.
“I have been waiting for water and food”. Go IGARASHI (right), AAR, hands food and daily necessities package to a woman affected by the disaster (February 4th, 2010)


The Great East Japan Earthquake: Our Fadeless Memories and Lost Home

Connecting People

Nearly 6 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, approximately 13 million still live in post-disaster temporary housing facilities (Reconstruction Agency, January 2017). In 2016, AAR Japan (Association for Aid and Relief) held 64 events in its continuous effort to encourage disaster victims to socialize, maintain their health and relieve stress. 1,201 people participated in activities that involved massage and counseling, craft workshop, lunch events and others.

In Iwate, AAR is continuing its effort in Otsuchi, a town which was severely damaged as the tsunami had washed away the entire town. Six years after the disaster, more than half its population are forced to live in temporary housing. While public housing facilities are being completed in some areas, progress has been slow in the devastated areas. These areas have only finished developing plans for banking work and making foundations on higher ground, allowing no evacuees from these areas to leave the temporary houses and return home for the next 2 years.

Today, many still struggle with their memories of their tsunami experience. A woman in her 80s said, "I was on the second floor of my house when I saw my elderly neighbor screaming for help while the tsunami took her. She looked at me, but I could not do anything to save her. While her daughters have decided to return to their family's renovated house, she has chosen to wait for the public housing to be completed in 2 years, never to be in a place that can remind her of the experience of the disaster. Another woman told us, "I was able to move from temporary housing to public housing, but living alone can feel very isolating and I still have sleepless nights because of my experience with the tsunami."
Temporary housing resident and her handmade princess dolls at a craft workshop, Minami-Soma Koike Harahata Daini temporary housing (February 2nd, 2017)


The Great East Japan Earthquake: Supporting hand-made goods made by PWDs

Nearly 6 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 2011. Immediately following the events of the disaster, AAR Japan implemented emergency relief efforts, and at present continues to offer a range of support to those affected persons, including children who suffer from radiation poisoning following the nuclear accident, PWDs, and the elderly who currently reside in temporary housing.
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Aeon 1% Club Foundation, we have managed to put in place a total of 107 facilities aimed at supporting the employment of PWDs throughout the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima. The funds raised from the foundation from Aeon customers were matched by Aeon and donated to AAR Japan. Here is just one of the activities that were made possible thanks to these fundraising efforts.

A place to showcase products made by PWDs

On November 19th and 20th in the south branch Aeon mall in Iwate prefecture, The Council of Social Welfare in Iwate Prefecture, The Employment Support Office for People with Disabilities along with the order center of products made by people with disabilities held the “Nice Heart Bazaar in Iwate” event. This event has been held every year since 2010, where PWDs from Iwate sell a variety of food that they have made. This year, 33 stalls and booths were set up.

As a joint sponsor, AAR Japan offered goods that could be seen on display on shelves and in glass cases. On this occasion, more than 800 people visited the bazaar and over the 2 days the event was held 700,000 yen (approx. $6300USD) was made in sales. Customers who came to the stores gave their impressions, saying “I always look forward to this event” and “They look so good, and the taste is great”. This was truly a great chance to show the appeal of products made by PWDs.
A picture taken from the “Nice Heart Bazaar in Iwate”(November, 2016)


Myanmar:For the Persons with Disabilities to live with Reassurance

What the Civil War Left Behind

The state of Karen in Myanmar, sharing a border with Thailand, is a region of beautiful nature and rich traditional culture. However, during the 60 years until when the cease-fire agreement was signed in 2012, repeated outbreaks of war continually occurred between the Burmese government and the Karen armed forces. Because of this, then the longest civil war in the world, the establishment of social welfare and education systems was delayed, resulting in a lack of public assistance available to persons with disabilities including those who were victimized by landmine accidents. Their opportunities to receive an education and participate in society are limited and many live an unstable and secluded lifestyle.
In response, in September 2016 AAR Japan, in cooperation with the Social Welfare Department of Karen state, commenced support activities for persons with disabilities in 15 villages to assist them in living independently with peace of mind.

A Day in the Life of a Person with a Disability

What is the day in the life of a person with a disability in this village look like? And what kind of problems do they face? Saw Hla Htoo (age 23) lost sight in his left eye when he was three due to illness, and lost sight in his right eye when he was 18, due to injury. He has never studied at school since it is far away from his house and he cannot travel there safely. Since he cannot find a job, he is helping out his family by carrying water and doing simple chores, but he spends most of his time at home.
Saw Hla Htoo can hardly see out of both of his eyes, and he cannot go outside (December 5th, 2016)