September 28, 2012

One of the organizations that JCIE supported during the relief phase of its funding efforts was NICCO, an NGO that continues to be active in the regional recovery efforts as well. In a recent report, NICCO described its psychosocial care program in Miyagi Prefecture.

In the town of Yuriage, located in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, nearly 900 people out of the several thousand residents were killed, and more than 90 percent of the houses were destroyed. Few people now remain in Yuriage, and reconstruction programs have made little progress to date, leaving the remaining residents anxious and impatient. To help the community heal, NICCO has erected an open-access prefab structure called “Mémoire de Yuriage” in the center of a devastated area in Yuriage, believing that a common space can serve as a core part of reconstruction. This space allows people to gather, communicate, and work on plans for reconstruction. The structure has come to have multiple functions. It serves as an information and administration office for a memorial monument that was built at Yuriage Junior High School. It offers a café where people in the community can enjoy coffee or tea and chat with neighbors. It also offers an exhibition room and a space for storytellers who share their experiences of the disaster and feelings toward their hometown. The name “Mémoire de Yuriage” comes from the hope that this place will serve as a place for victims to come to terms with both precious and painful memories, allowing them to move forward with their lives and with rebuilding their community.