May 6, 2011

Last week, the Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) delivered washing machines and dryers to two evacuation centers on the Oshika Peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture. Many places on the peninsula are still without water and electricity, so this equipment was set up in central areas where as many residents as possible will be able to use them.
The AAR staff are constantly talking to evacuees and local officials, trying to assess the current situation and needs. They were told that the deliveries of food and other relief supplies had dropped significantly in recent weeks. In particular, they had asked to have vegetables at least once every few days, but were not getting that. Even though schools had reopened, the school lunches consisted of just milk and a roll, which hardly sustains the children through six hours of classes.

AAR is also continuing to provide mobile medical services, going house by house to make sure people are healthy. Recently they visited a woman who is four months pregnant and has not been feeling well. The AAR team, which included two nurses and a local doctor, brought a portable ultrasound unit along to check on the baby’s progress and were able to reassure her that her baby was healthy. The team’s efforts are greatly appreciated by these residents who are feeling extremely isolated, and many people have told them, “The fact that you care about how I’m doing makes me so happy. Just knowing that there are people who are aware of my existence helps me get through this.”

Over the Golden Week holiday, JEN volunteers reported serving about 200 meals a day in the town of Ishinomaki. One team of volunteers that had helped out in early April came back again for a second round of volunteering. JEN is now planning on expanding the volunteer efforts to create a community soup kitchen.