The Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) reviewed its nine months of relief efforts since the March 11 disaster. To date, it has provided sets of household items for 20,719 families living in temporary housing (the target is roughly 35,000). AAR is continues to provide relief items as needed, with the current focus being on heaters and clothing to help people prepare for the cold winter months. They also continue to provide meals at evacuation centers and elsewhere, and as of late November, they had served more than 25,000 meals in 72 locations.
AAR is also assisting a newly created NPO, “Soma Follower Teams,” that is focused on providing psychological care for the children of Soma. A team of six mental health experts and public health nurses was formed to work with children at the city’s nursery schools, elementary schools, and middle schools. In November, a special counseling program began for elementary schools in areas where there are high levels of radiation from the nuclear plant disaster, forcing kids to stay indoors.
Another of its ongoing initiatives is a program in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures to provide rehabilitation services, mental health care services, and various events in a comprehensive initiative to help disaster victims recover both physically and emotionally. The program is targeting those with disabilities, the elderly, in-home evacuees, and those in temporary housing. As of the end of November, AAR had also helped with repairs or provided equipment to 32 facilities for the elderly and disabled. (Their target is to assist roughly 60 facilities.) To date, they have also provided vehicles to 14 welfare facilities. They have also worked with 11 welfare trade shops where people with disabilities had been making confections and other types of products prior to the earthquake, but had lost their sales routes and customers as a result of the disaster. AAR has been helping them to find new markets for their products.
While some AAR activities—e.g., the bus services it had been providing or the efforts to control disease-carrying pests—are now finished, the organization is continuing to provide critical support to vulnerable groups in the disaster area.