May 20, 2011

In some fields, NGOs are winding down their relief efforts. For example, medical assistance is decreasing as the Tohoku region’s own medical institutions are starting to reopen. At the same time, other organizations are starting to prepare for the long-term task of the recovery, which will require a wider range of NGOs to contribute over the next several years. In terms of relief, those serving meals, helping with cleanup efforts, and working toward reconstruction continue to work hard. JEN has added a second team of volunteers on the Oshika Peninsula to help serve meals. They’ve set up a soup kitchen that is now serving more than 400 meals daily and also serves as a place where the community can gather. As they continue to actively recruit volunteers, JEN is also holding a seminar in Tokyo next week titled, “Let’s Go Volunteer in Tohoku!—Before You Go.” The event is intended to answer questions people have about volunteering and let those who’ve already volunteered share their experiences.

KnK Japan (Children without Borders) held a ceremony last week to present the city of Ofunato with a new school bus. They are donating a total of 22 buses to five towns in Iwate Prefecture. This bus will be used in the Akirai district of town. The purchase of the bus was made with help from Secours Populaire Français, a French NGO.

On Twitter, Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) staff wrote that the weather in Tohoku has been getting warmer and the PWJ staff are now often wearing short-sleeved shirts and t-shirts as they carry out their work. With the change of seasons, the needs in the region are changing as well. In mid- to late June, the Tohoku region will enter the rainy season—over a month of what seems like daily rain—and then the heat of the summer will set in. Staff are thinking ahead about the implications of the upcoming weather on evacuees’ health and on the clean-up efforts.