September 28, 2011

The volunteer work continues in Tohoku. NICCO has been soliciting student volunteers for more clean-up work in October. Their focus will be cleaning and clearing debris from homes and farms on the island of Oshima, which is part of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture. The island was featured in an August article in Le Monde as having been largely overlooked by relief efforts to date, so this assistance is greatly needed even now.

JEN is also continuing to send volunteers to the region. A British volunteer shared an account of his 8-day stay at JEN’s Watanoha House in Ishinomaki, where volunteers from all over Japan are staying. He and other JEN volunteers were helping to clear storm drains in the fishing village of Ayukawa, on the Oshika Peninsula.

110928_001As of this week, Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) had distributed gift certificates for use in local stores to 6,169 people in 2,326 homes (temporary housing, government-loaned housing, etc.). These gift certificates serve the dual purpose of helping the victims of the disaster buy needed items and services, as well as spurring the local economy. Last month, PWJ conducted a survey to ensure that their effort was having the intended impact. Most of the responses were very positive—some noting that the gift certificates had been useful since they escaped with no belongings at all, others saying they helped because they have no income now, while others were pleased with the fact that they could be used at a variety of places. Some of the negative comments were that the shops where they could be used were too far from the temporary housing sites and that the lack of transportation makes it difficult to get there. PWJ continues to look for ways to improve its programs, including the gift certificate distribution program, to help the region recover.