LIVE FROM JAPAN
NGO known as Non-Governmental Organisation has rose in figures, after the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It has also raised many attention of local student groups from different universities and started on their own initiative to help raise more awareness in the situations in the affected areas, as well as assisting those in need and interacting with locals to form the infinite close bonds.
We sat down with 6 different NGO groups, from local universities to high-school colleges across Japan in Sapporo, Sendai Ishinomaki, Iwate Prefecture, Tsukuba and here’s our recount and insights that we have gathered on their contributions towards a non-profit actions of the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami last year:
In a team of about 14 students from different universities that include the prestigious universities like Tokyo University, The Deer Horn Dream Catcher was started with a heart of assisting the locals in the affected areas to do something meaningful and in the meanwhile, for an extra income to earn by the local women. Deer horn was used as the area was popular with many roaming deers and threads were used as it was close to the heart of locals, as many fishermen were living in the area of Ishinomaki and each of these accessories can be easily made within an hour under the skilful hands of these women.
I was moved by the actions of these women as they wore a sweet broad smile across their faces despite facing the big setback that destructed their life and houses during the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami and 1 of them actually held my hands tightly and said “I might not have a chance to meet you and the other foreigners, if the 3.11 didn’t happen.”
It was amazing that our small actions that include coming to the site and visiting them, actually made them satisfied.
『Japan Car Sharing Association』
The Japan Car sharing was embarked in Ishinomaki with the thoughts that the locals are reliant on cars as their main transport to get to places, and with the locals now staying at temporary holding centres, why not allow them to share the cars between the families and cutting the cost to the minimum?
The Japan Car Sharing Association was also spearheaded by a group of university students and it has now 30 over cars sponsored by a company and private cars now on the road for these families to get to places more easily, as we know that Ishinomaki is a remote area and buses might not be a good transport to travel around easily.
『PIARA Tsukuba University』
Despite its small size groups of only 8 members, PIARA coordinates volunteers by connecting groups of people who are interested to help and assist the affected victims in the areas. There are various platform where news of recruitment were spread on different social media platforms like twitter, blog, mailing list and the Internet. On-the-spot recruitment was also organised whom will participate in the assistance works in these affected areas across Japan.
An event was also organised to coordinate Tsukuba For 3.11 through Bizzare, Volunteers and publishing and spreading the word for recruitment. We also spoke to Miss Chiharu Ishii whom described what happened during 3.11 as her family was living in Iwate and there was a cliff before the house which helped to prevent the tsunami from reaching her house. For the houses beyond the cliff, they were all washed away by the surge of tsunami and now, an empty land appears in front of the cliff.
『HOSUP』 『MICHINOKU KIDS』
HOSUP, known as Hokkaido x Support was formed last March 2011 and we spoke with Mr Nishimoto Ryota, a high school college student who filled us with how HOSUP has raised awareness of the activities of 3.11. It helped to gather volunteer groups where information was spread through different media through its recent Free Paper which can be picked up at various locations that was packed with different stories of 3.11 and just today, the second version of the OUEN TIMES was published and distributed where you can find it online here. Other various channels include blog, homepage, twitter, mailing lists and facebook to spread the information quickly and instantly.
MICHINOKU KIDS was established in June ’11 and now headed by a bubbly lady, Miss Kida Ryoko where she is proud of MICHINOKU KIDS activities which was established after the startling earthquake and tsunami that shook Japan a year ago. Their aim of the group was to create a healthy living among kids through ensuring mental conditions and well-beings of the kids, teach and play the kids as well as a 100 yen holiday program for the kids to join in the fun during holidays to bond the kids together whom actually moved from other parts of Japan to Hokkaido due to the decision of worrying parents as Hokkaido is far away from the disaster-affected areas.
『Iwate GINGA-NET Project』
We made our final stop at Iwate Prefecture where we met up with the group of young warm-hearted youths from Iwate University who were surprisingly the same age as yours truly. We were amazed by the quick-witted ideas of these youth who were very creative in their ideas to help the community and connecting students to the locals. As many locals do not know much about the Iwate prefecture and do not have any idea on where to start on helping the locals, the Iwate GALAXY initated the Iwate GINGA-NET Project where they worked across 146 Universities and recruited 1086 students for a week-long course which happened in 7 consecutive weeks during August to September 2011 and visited 30 temporary housing complexes in 4 districts in the Iwate Prefecture.
Extracted from GINGA-NET
Tightening Stronger Bonds between neighbours was the main objective of these youth to strengthen these neighbours, who were once strangers when they were allocated to move to the temporary holding areas. Subsidies that include Central Community Chest of Japan and individual as well as companies who actually brought cooked food or food cooked on the spot at these holding centres supported the GINGA-NET project in many ways to help keep the project moving forward and reaching out to more younger students to volunteer and assist in the communications between these locals.
Extracted from GINGA-NET
Each participant has to pay for a fee of 15,000 yen which includes lodging in a local hall, food, transport from major areas like Kyoto, Tokyo and other inclusions also include bathing in the package. They will undergo orientations, visiting the disaster sites, meeting with residents, reflections after everyday as well as making a wish on what they can do further and what they will like to achieve on their next volunteer work.
Extracted from GINGA-NET
The participants created connections with the locals and managed to achieve a strong communication between the residents such as an emergence of the Neighbourhood Councils where contacts were also maintained and events are still organised to further bond the residents. The participants travel to the site at Iwate Prefecture on a loop bus service that starts from Iwate to Kyoto to Tokyo then to Iwate.
On 13 March 2012, 50 student volunteers will be involved in the Winter Season campaign and will make their way to Iwate Prefecture for a week-long activity will with similar activities like bonding between residents, visiting disaster sites and more. Few months ago during the new year eve reunion on 31/12, the GINGA-NET volunteers had a meal with the traditional food, Soba Noodles with the locals for a better year ahead as part of a custom.
Inspiring yet simple motivations through the activities initiated by the youth inspired us to go beyond what everyone can contributed with their small little actions. It was fruitful and surprising to see youth who could go all the way out to help brighten the lives of these victims and spreading the word out although they might not be able to get to these places physically to help these victims.
Every action can help and change lives of others. No doubt, it was comforting to see the young generations of Japan of their endless contributions for the others and you could too, make a difference through these and more other groups.
Stay tuned to more updates on our Japan trip of our sights and visits, on 3.11 Japan trip.