July 1, 2011

20110701_image5The Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan has been working in Rikuzentakata (Iwate Prefecture) to help people living in temporary housing remain active. Extended stays in evacuation facilities make it difficult to find opportunities to exercise and move around as people normally would, so the long-term impact on the evacuees’ health—particularly the elderly—is a major concern. One event that AAR participated in to help get elderly residents outside and moving was a city-sponsored event to plant vegetables. AAR purchased tomato and cucumber seedlings from local suppliers and provided them for the event. Other organizations donated the planters and soil. The idea is to get the residents outside each day to tend their little gardens and thereby promote exercise and interaction with others.

AAR was also working to help Mr. Azuma, a blind resident of Miyagi Prefecture who used to work as a massage therapist at his clinic in Kesennuma. That clinic was situated just 100 meters from the sea, so the entire clinic building, including all of the massage equipment, was lost in the tsunami. Mr. Azuma is now living with relatives. It has been difficult for him to get information, so AAR delivered a computer for him to use that allows him to get information on the disaster and relief efforts that are sent from the braille library. He is hoping to use this computer in his efforts to reopen his clinic and regain his independence.

The Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA) staff reported on the progress they have seen in the town of Otsuchi. Progress has been made over the past three months in clearing some of the rubble, and in June the town was able to hold a Saiko (Revival) Festival on the middle school grounds. The local merchants set up shops under the tents and local folk artists performed, bringing smiles to the local residents.

Also, AMDA is continuing to offer acupuncture and moxibustion to earthquake survivors since the facilities for such traditional medical treatments were largely destroyed in the disaster. They are treating people who are still living in evacuation centers, but there have been requests for the establishment of a clinic so that such treatments can be done in private. AMDA is now working on preparations for such a clinic.