Aid for Japan – Diary of events December 2011

The report – our activities in Japan in December 2011

Aid For Japan – aidforjapan.co.uk

20th December

We arrive at Narita Airport.

Before we left the U.K., we had contacted several Japanese NPOs (non-profit organisations). They had given us a lot of good advice and helped us get in touch with the right orphanages. We brought chocolates, toys and Christmas cards for all the people we were to visit, including the staff of the orphanages.

In Japan there is a very strict data protection law. Many Japanese NPOs do not have or give out information about individual orphan cases, so instead they pass the donation money to education authorities of a city or prefecture to give to the orphans.

**Aid For Japan’s purpose of this trip was to find the orphans of the Tsunami.

NB/ In Japan we do not use the word “Orphanage”. Usually the term “Jido Yogo Shisetsu”, meaning a living space for children who do not have parents or who cannot live with parents, is used.

21st December

We visit “La Salle Home” (Jido Yogo Shisetsu) near Higashi-Sendai station: http://www.h-lasalle.ed.jp/sendai/sendai01.htm

We brought 74 presents.

The director, Mr. Rodrigo Trevinof was very kind to us and gave us the appropriate information. We shall continue to support this place using the donations from Aid For Japan.

Had a meeting with a professor of Sendai University also the founder of “Kodomo Mirai Kikin”trans. Children’s Future Fund (for after the disaster). He offered his expertise on the subject of growth and maintenance of Aid For Japan.

22nd December

A morning meeting in Sendai city

Attendees included: Head of Welfare of the Child Care sector of Miyagi prefecture, Head of the Childrens’ Counselling sector of Miyagi prefecture, Chairman of the Foster Parent Association of Miyagi prefecture, a wife of the Chairman of the Foster Parent Association of Sendai city.

We left Sendai city station for Ishinomaki city, the worst struck place by the Tsunami where many were killed. However, because of the aftermath of the Tsunami there were no good train connections, so we had to use a bus.

It took one hour and a half to reach Ishinomaki, and two hours and a half to come back to Sendai.

People are still cleaning up the streets and tidying the broken buildings. It smells like sludge a little.

Held a meeting with the Vice Head of the East Area Childrens’ Counselling sector of Miyagi prefecture. (The head was not in the building because of a business trip).

We met the founder of the charity “It’s Not Just Mud”, Jamie El-Banna who is from London volunteering in Ishinomaki: http://itsnotjustmud.com/ We hope that we can help each other in the future.

23rd December

We visit“Asahiga Oka Gakuen” (Jido Yogo Shisetsu) in Kesennuma city, Miyagi prefecture: http://www6.ocn.ne.jp/~asahigao/

We brought 67 presents.

We must remember that going to Kesennuma is very difficult since the Tsunami. From Ichinoseki station only one train and bus run every two hours!

24th December

We visit “Iwaki Ikueisha” (Jido Yogo Shisetsu) in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture: http://www.iwaki-shakyo.com/net/iwakiikueisya/index.htm

We brought 40 presents and joined their Christmas party.

26th December

A meeting at the Children’s Counselling Centre building in Sendai city.

This is our second meeting with the heads and other staff members.

We returned to “La Salle Home” (Jido Yogo Shisetsu) near Higashi-Sendai station with special presents; stuffed toys from England and a personal letter we wrote to one orphan from after the Tsunami. Her parents, grandparents and younger brother died because of Tsunami. She is an 11 years old girl.

27th December

Met with knowledgeable people in Tokyo, who gave us useful advice for our future activities with orphans of this disaster.

Thoughts after our trip

When we met with the officials who work for Miyagi prefecture, they and we agreed that it is very difficult to work without the support or affiliation of an official organisation, due to the strict Japanese laws on data protection. Aid For Japan therefore needs to work together with a good Japanese organisation that understands our aims.

The officials introduced us to “Higashi Nihon Daishin-sai Miyagi Kodomo Ikueikikin Jyourei”trans. East Japan’s big disaster children’s future foundation of Miyagi.

Information can be found here:

http://www.pref.miyagi.jp/kosodate/01kosodate/kihukouza/jourei.htm
http://www.pref.miyagi.jp/kosodate//01kosodate/kihukouza/kihukouza.htm

This organisation is similar to our charity and they deal with Miyagi prefecture’s children who were victims of the disaster.

Altogether three prefectures were detrimentally affected by the Tsunami and Earthquake on the 11th March 2011 (Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate). However, if we want our charity to be most effective for the orphans then we had better decide to focus our efforts on only one prefecture. This will probably be Miyagi prefecture, so that we can work closely with a Japanese organisation and to avoid complications that may impede our future progress.