On December 18, the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia opened the “AMDA Otsuchi Health Support Center.” The project planning for the center began in April and construction began in early November. The official opening ceremony featured the traditional pounding of rice cakes, a concert, traditional performances, and a Christmas Fair with items created by local residents. AMDA has been continuing to offer acupuncture and moxibustion treatments in the area, so the center will provide stable and central facilities for those efforts. In November, they treated more than 110 patients who were suffering with everything from headaches and insomnia to loss of appetite and alcoholism. In addition to offering traditional medicine, AMDA doctors provide someone to listen to and counsel the patients, which helps relieve the stress the patients are experiencing. From July to September, AMDA had dispatched 71 doctors and nurses to volunteer at the Shizugawa Hospital. From October, however, they decided to provide financial support instead in the interest of spurring employment of local nurses.
The Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) is continuing its “container house” project. To date they have built 30 houses in Onagawa (Miyagi Prefecture), some of which were used to create the Onagawa Container Village Shopping Center. Subsequently, AAR received a request for container houses for a shopping center in Rikuzentakata (Iwate Prefecture). Rikuzentakata had been home to a pine forest that was on Japan’s list of 100 top scenic locations. Sadly, the tsunami washed away an estimated 70,000 trees, and the lone pine that remained as a ray of hope is now dying due to the damage done to its roots by the salt water. The downtown has also sunk more than 80cm, which has resulted in some areas still being covered in water. To help restore the spirits of the town, local businesspeople came together to establish the “Natsukashii Mirai Souzo Co.” (roughly translated, the Creating a Dearly Missed Future Co.) and launched a project to create a new shopping center. Two containers arrived in Rikuzentakata in November, and six more are scheduled to arrive in December. The ultimate goal is to have 30 container houses set up for business, providing a place where local residents can mingle, relax, and enjoy themselves, while at the same time stimulating the local economic recovery.