June 7, 2011


JEN reported that last week the total number of volunteers it has sent to the earthquake-stricken region is now more than 1,000. Their efforts last week included clearing rubble from the area next to the Haginohama Elementary School on the Oshika Peninsula. Before the disaster, children had played in the mountain stream that runs through the woods here, but the tsunami left it filled with mud and debris. It will be a while before the scars of the tsunami disappear, but this effort was an important first step.

rpt1106_660_1excellAssociation for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan reported on its efforts to help two facilities in Fukushima Prefecture for elderly residents suffering from dementia. One facility, “Senior Garden,” is a group home that was located less than 9 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant and therefore had to evacuate. They first moved to a room in a noodle restaurant in Kawauchi Village, a town where residents were not evacuated but were under orders to remain inside. They then moved into a rented apartment in Fukushima City, which has allowed them to continue providing service to 15 people. For people with dementia, even small changes cause great stress, and one 70-year-old man there suffered a hemorrhage due to a stomach ulcer caused by the stressful conditions. The directors of the Senior Garden have been working hard to take care of their residents and to keep their spirits up, but it has been difficult to secure enough supplies. AAR brought them electric rice cookers, kettles, garbage bags, towels, underwear, and snacks to assist them. They also helped a second facility, Ekuseru, which is taking care of 9 elderly residents, including 3 who are bedridden. They are also having difficulty getting enough supplies and are concerned about dealing with electricity shortages in the summer. They are also dealing with anxiety-related issues caused by their proximity to the nuclear power plant.

Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) helped organize a visit to Kesennuma by the former coach of Japan’s national soccer team, Takeshi Okada, where he and former J-League players offered clinics for the local children. Okada later told reporters how meaningful his visit had been, stating, “I really felt the power of sports; its power to bring hope to people.”