The Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) has been helping repair and rebuild more than 50 facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities that were damaged in the March 11 disaster. The application and approval process for getting government funding for repairs takes a great deal of time, and many facilities are not eligible for funding to start with, so the support from AAR has been greatly appreciated. One example is Rupaato, an outpatient rehabilitation facility for people with intellectual and physical disabilities located near the Sendai Airport. When the disaster struck, thankfully all patients and staff were able to escape safely, but the tsunami caused severe damage to the facility, as well as to its equipment and vehicles, and the area was deemed unfit for new construction. Fortunately, they were able to secure a new building, and AAR has supported them in renovating it for their patients. While many of the patients showed signs of stress following the earthquake, this new facility has helped to bring smiles back to their faces.
AAR also helped in the reconstruction of the Runbini Museum, a special museum that features a “borderless art collection” of works created by artists with disabilities. The earthquake had left the building with cracks and other structural damage, but with AAR’s help, construction was completed in mid-July and the museum has reopened for visitors and artists.