In Ishinomaki (Miyagi Prefecture), there are still many train and bus routes not running, with no target date in sight for them to be restored. During the first term of the school year (which starts in April in Japan), there were a number of students who had to be driven to school each day by their parents. Also, many students moved out of the evacuation centers over the summer vacation and into temporary housing that is far from their schools, so there were major concerns when school restarted in September about how those students would get to their middle schools and high schools in town. In response, the Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) donated a total of 200 bicycles to five schools in Ishinomaki. A presentation ceremony was held on August 19, and principals, teachers, and students from the five schools attended. Also in attendance was Bruce Bailey, president of Rolex Japan, which was among the supporters of this effort.
AAR has also arranged concerts by XUXU, an all-female a cappella quartet, to lift the spirits of people in Ofunato (Iwate Prefecture), which is another of the hardest-hit areas. The group was chosen as Ofunato’s Hometown Ambassadors, in part thanks to their original song, “OHLA! Sanma!” (a song about the mackerel pike, for which Ofunato is famous). The ladies of XUXU visited seven locations, tailoring their performances to the audience at each site. One such event was “Never Give Up, Ofunato,” a recovery festival in August that was attended by many fishermen, where XUXU performed on a stage that had been set up aboard a ship.