05/07/2019

'Children`s Diner— Friend Café 2018' in Miyako-shi, Iwate Prefecture

   We hosted the “Children`s Diner—Friend Café 2018” on March 23rd at the Miyako-shi Tsugaruishi Community Center. Over 20 individuals from the area, including local welfare officers, members of aid organizations, “Shiokaze Dining” support members, and people thinking about supporting “Shiokaze Dining” came together to participate in this event.

   In the first half, 2 things were accomplished:

  1. Introduction of activities done by “Kokokamu Diner”, a Children`s Diner hosted in Yahaba-cho, Morioka-shi
  2. Report of activities done by “WakuWaku Happy Children`s Dining”, a Children`s Diner hosted in the Tsugaruishi District.

We were able to learn a lot from both of the events, and during the Q&A session, many questions were asked by the participants.

Th_201905_03300x200

Inside the venue

 

     In the second half of the event, we hosted a Children`s Diner Project Planning Workshop.

     The participants were divided up in to groups of 5 to 6 individuals, and were instructed to make project plans by placing sticky notes of important things to remember regarding venue location and participant demographics on “The Children`s Diner`s Tree”, drawn on a large piece of art paper. Many of the participants shared great ideas about Children`s Diners. “I want to cherish interactions between age groups, such as children interacting with the elderly” and “We should host Children`s Diners at various locations, such as at a park for Hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) so kids who live far away from the usual locations can participate!” are just some of the ideas shared by the participants.

 

Th_201905_02300x200

During the workshop 1

 

       Afterwards, we had the participants share their project plans and ideas with the other groups. Everyone seemed to be very enthusiastic about asking questions and sharing opinions and ideas with their own groups, as well as the other groups.

 

Th_201905_01300x200

During the workshop 2

 

      We hope that with the efforts of the individuals who participated in this event, many “Shiokaze Dining” events can be hosted in various areas of Tohoku, starting with Tsugaruishi, and can provide a place for children in the area to come together, and also serve as a support base for struggling individuals.

 

~What is Children`s Diner, “Shiokaze Kitchen” and “Shiokaze Dining”? ~

       In a nation where 1 in 7 children are impoverished, poverty levels in single-mother households exceed 50%.

“Shiokaze Kitchen” serves as a monthly place where the parents and children from those households, along with the staff members of the Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council and volunteers, come together to make and eat meals together. It also provides a place for the children to have fun, and to talk to older members of the community about any concerns they may have.

       However, many of the “Shiokaze Kitchen” events in the past have been hosted in the urban areas of the region, and as a result, many families were unable to participate due to the distance. The Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council has been working to start their own “Children`s Diner” facility, “Shiokaze Dining” in various parts of Miyako-shi, to combat this issue.

 

JEN is currently supporting “Shiokaze Kitchen” and “Shiokaze Dining”, a dining facility for children from impoverished households, hosted by the Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council in the Iwate Prefecture.

May 7, 2019 in Tohoku Earthquake |

04/26/2019

Nowruz Celebration in the Former Central Kurram District

In many regions of the world, New Year’s takes place on January 1st. However, there are various different New Year`s all around the world that are celebrated on different days in different ways. The Chinese Lunar New Year is a well-known New Year`s celebration, but there are many more New Year`s celebrated by different cultures, countries, and religions.


  Nowruz, also known as Persian New Year`s, is celebrated in different countries around the world. Although it originates in Iran, Nowruz has been celebrated in many communities. For people following some religions, this is a fun holiday, but for the Shi`a Muslims, it represents a holy day.


  Nowruz marks the start of spring, and the first day of the first month on the Iranian calendar. Family members come together and perform certain rituals. On the Gregorian calendar, it typically takes place on March 21st, or a day before or after that. This year, Nowruz was celebrated on the 21st of March, 2019.


  The main events of Nowruz are cleaning the house and shopping, and also visiting friends and family. Of the events, some unique ones include “Haft Seen”, “Haft Mewa (7 different types of nuts and dried fruits soaked in syrup)”, “Khoncha (traditional displaying method of seven dishes, placing wheat and barley dishes in the middle)”, “Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz (figure wearing bright red clothing and a hat, comes with Amu Nowruz and sings traditional songs while playing the tambourine)”, and “Kampirak (old man figure with a long beard, representing nature and grace, and conducts charity at various villages during the celebration)”. Some of them will be mentioned in this blog post.


Pk_20190531_03_20190621145701

“Haft Seen” is a very interesting custom, and represents the seven food items that start with the Persian letter “س” (S letter in English). This includes wheat, barley, samanu (a type of sweet pudding), apples, garlic, vinegar, gummy fruit, and spices from sumac plant fruit. Seven of these items are placed on the table and the family members sit around the table.


In Iran, the traditional emissaries for the celebration are “Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz” and they appear in the streets to celebrate the new year.


“Amu Nowruz”delivers presents to children, similar to what Santa Claus does on Christmas. He is the husband of Nane Sarma, and they are only able to meet once a year, so the love story says.


Pk_20190531_04_20190621145701

This year`s Nowruz celebration took place in the Parachinar region. The Shi`a community of the Parachinar and Ali Zai regions celebrated Nowruz in the evening of March 21st, 2019. In the morning, most famous mosques put out a massive flag. Over a few thousand people celebrated Nowruz with religious virtue. The people of Parachinar visited various mosques and also family and friends as part of the celebration. Additionally, children purchase new clothing to celebrate this day. At home, various dishes are prepared and are offered to family and friends. Musicians perform songs to excite the people of the community for this special occasion.


  The local JEN staff members had a chance to eat several dishes offered at the nearest imambargah (holy place for Shi`a Muslims). Overall, the city was filled with happiness and festiveness during the entirety of Nowruz. The celebration lasted between 15 to 20 days.


Pk_20190531_01_20190621145701

April 26, 2019 in Pakistan |

04/18/2019

Unexpected Snowfall Delays Progress

 JEN is currently providing WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) project aid to over 2300 households located in 28 regions of the world. The weather conditions in these regions this year are vastly different from before. The length of the snow season and the intensity of each snow storm from 2018 to 2019 have exceeded records from previous years. Because of this, our water supply plans and hygiene facility reconstruction plans have been greatly setback.

Pk_20190417_01_1

    In some of the villages, roads and trails became inaccessible due to the snow, as they became thin, slippery, and damaged overall. Access by car has become very dangerous due to the unfavorable road conditions, and as a result, many local JEN staff members walked to visit project participants and villages in the area, and walked to collect water samples as well. When the snowfall becomes too intense, the staff members have no other choice but to delay site visits.

Pk_20190417_03_1

    These conditions make it difficult to move on with the project, and therefore, although the project feels rewarding (even though it is difficult to conduct), the amount of work that has to be done after winter passes keeps increasing. However, one good thing has been that we have been given an extension to complete the project, thanks to JEN’s understanding of our situation. Additionally, after a thorough discussion with all of the local staff, we were able to sign contracts with 3 contractors for our water source reconstruction plans.

Pk_20190417_02_1

     The water source reconstruction plans have always been completed by the work of 3 contractors, each contractor doing a separate task. One contractor focuses solely on the reconstruction of the toilets. After that contractor is finished with their task, the plans are passed on to another contractor. The objective behind this approach is to maximize reconstruction efforts in the shortest amount of time. As of now, we predict that the reconstruction operations will be finished either in June or July of 2019, after Eid al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, and takes place on June 5th to June 7th).

Pk_20190417_04_1

      Additionally, the procurement of sanitation kits is in its final stages. The distribution of these kits will begin in a few weeks, and the local staff members are currently looking for a storage unit to store the kits and a security guard to ensure the safety of the kits until the time of distribution arrives. We hope to complete all of the projects we have planned without any further delays or setbacks.

April 18, 2019 in Pakistan |

04/04/2019

Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture (Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association)

OBGYNs, nurses, midwives, nutritionists, dentists… From giving birth to raising children, families are supported by numerous professionals from different fields. If those professionals were to give out completely different advice on the same topic, how would the parents react? There would be lots of confusion and it may potentially lead to parents losing their confidence in raising children and increase stress levels ovrall.


              For example, studies on the methods for increasing parent`s confidence in child rearing and creating healthy child-parent attachment tendencies have been conducted from the field of clinical research specifically on breastfeeding and baby food, but professionals that are heavily involved in child birth and child rearing do not always have up-to-date information on new breastfeeding and baby food research findings. There also may be cases where professionals work based around outdated information from tens of years ago, which is often proven to be false and potentially detrimental to the mother and child.


              In order to combat this phenomenon, the Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association, with the support of JEN, hosted the Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in both Minamisouma-shi and Koriyama-shi this month.


              During this Training Session, two topics, Dietary Education for Mothers of Infants, and Nutrition for Infants During Times of Emergency, were covered. Some of the specific content covered during the session included:



  1. Understanding the possibility of misinterpreting the statement, “breast milk has no preventive properties regarding allergies” as “breast milk has no benefits to the immune system”

  2. Handling liquid milk for infants- keeping it at room temperature is okay, only if the temperature is between 15-25˚C and all the leftovers are discarded


Th_20190404_01300x169

Image from the Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture 1 (March 16th, 2019)


Th_20190404_02300x169

Image from the Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture 2 (March 16th, 2019)


 

Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association`s official YouTube channel is now open!

Find videos on breastfeeding, carrying your baby on your back, and more here:

https://bit.ly/2I36b3O

 


From 2016, as a partner of the General Incorporated Association, Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association, JEN has been supporting the “Child-rearing by Midwives and Postpartum Mother and Child Support” efforts. The Fukushima Prefecture Midwife`s Association focuses on supporting parents of infants by removing the risk of isolation through interactions with professionals and other members of the community, and overall, raising their confidence in child rearing.


April 4, 2019 in Tohoku Earthquake |

02/20/2019

Analysis of the Drinking Water Source Schemes

JEN has successfully completed the Feasibility Evaluation for the Water Source Schemes to be set up in the Para chamkani area, as part of the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Project that is taking place in the central region of Kurram District. The Kurram Regional Administration appointed this proposed project to JEN, and the JEN staff members have visited over 30 structures that specifically provide safe drinking water.

Pk_20190220_01

Our results showed that indeed, the main source of drinking water in the Kurram District was a natural spring. Natural springs are a special type of underground water source, where water is pushed out from underneath flowing water due to pressurization. All naturally occurring springs are derived from aquifers, an underground layer composed of water-permeable rock. In the Kurram District, different types of wells are struggling to provide a safe water source for the members in the community, mainly due to the topography of the region and it being prone to landslides.

Pk_20190220_02

Access to this region is extremely difficult, as all the roads are “Kacha”, meaning not concrete and not paved in the Urdu and Pashto language. Along with the afternoon showers and lightning storm season, the winter season has already begun. Temperatures have dropped approximately 5 degrees, and construction work will come to a halt until February. These conditions make it difficult and dangerous for local JEN staff members to visit project sites and participants, as the already thin roads become extremely slippery during this season. Because the region is located in a mountainous area, risks of traveling are very high, especially if safety measures are not recognized and acted upon.

Pk_20190220_03

In order to prepare the Feasibility Evaluation Report, the engineers in charge of the program must visit the water source sites, which include travel of approximately 4 to 5 hours, both by car and by foot. This makes the visits very difficult and dangerous. Although none of the water supply scheme locations met the criteria established by JEN, these water supply schemes were identified by the village residents to be an immediate need. A few reasons include non-feasibility of schemes technically, community mutual disputes and lower number of population on a high-budget scheme. Ultimately, the team selected 10 locations to set up the water source schemes. These locations were chosen based on the amount of damage unrest has left on the area, and all of these locations also met the technological standards set by JEN. We hope to begin the water source projects in early March, or whenever the weather starts clearing up.

February 20, 2019 in Pakistan |

02/15/2019

We went to participate in the Manpower Management Study Group!

On January 21st, JEN participated in the Second Annual “Learning about Manpower Management via Hunger Free World” Study Group as part of the NPO`s Efforts to Promote NSR (NPO`s Social Responsibility) Project. Although we did not report about our participation in the first Study Group hosted last year, this is our second time participating in this Study Group.  

The main objective of this Study Group was to learn the methods behind manpower management used by Hunger Free World, considering problems that may arise when implementing their techniques into our own organizations, and sharing ideas to find solutions to those problems.

In the First Annual Study Group that was hosted October 12th of last year, we learned how Hunger Free World developed their manpower management, and how it functions today from Ms. Rika Tanaka, the Deputy Director of the Executive Office at Hunger Free World.

In the second Study Group, each participating organization presented their own approach to manpower management. Additionally, each organization asked questions and provided suggestions to the approaches taken by other organizations.

In regards to manpower management, JEN still has a long ways to go. However, after participating in this Study Group, we were able to remind ourselves that time is an important resource when running an organization. We hope to create a work environment where we can clarify who works what job with how much effort and time, where each worker remains conscious of the important tasks, and where we can rethink our priorities in order to reach our goals. We thought that this will not only help JEN`s operations, but also the staff members of JEN as well.

We hope to implement what we have learned about manpower management from the lecturers and other organizations in this Study Group and create our basis of manpower management by the end of 2019.

Management Department Staff

February 15, 2019 in Tokyo HQ |

02/01/2019

Main findings from the preliminary -KAP Survey in Parrha Chamkani area, Central Kurram, Former FATA

The local JEN staff members have started conducting the Preliminary KAP (Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices) Survey. The main objective of conducting this survey is to gain an understanding of the current sanitation conditions and water and sanitation needs of the people of the area, before executing the project developed by JEN. Up until now, the staff members have visited a total of 27 regions and conducted this survey.

Pk_0201_recording

 

Pk_0201_kitchen

              The results of the survey mirrored that of the actual conditions of the region. The residents are extremely impoverished, and the area lacks any form of infrastructure. Road conditions are also poor. Knowledge about sanitation and sanitation habits is low compared to the people of KP province*. The main issue found in this region remains to be clean water, as residents of the area use spring water sources and surface water found in rivers and lakes for drinking water and for everyday use. Spring water sources lack appropriate preservation and protection methods, and as a result, may be contaminated.

              Drains often remain uncovered and broken, and in most villages in the area, these drains are clogged with plastic bags and bottles, as there is no established trash and waste disposal system. Additionally, although there are bathrooms, these bathrooms are for the most part, unusable.

Pk_0201_drains

 

Pk_0201_latrine

              The main source of income in this region comes from daily wage jobs. The majority of those living in the region find work outside the area, as the region provides very little to no opportunities for employment and business.

              JEN has been conducting water supply and sanitation projects in this area and the people seem to be excited about the projects in progress. In the future, we hope to provide support for the increase and development of agriculture, livestock, and technology, which will all ultimately lead to a sustainable lifestyle.

 

*FATA was the area adjacent to Afghanistan previously governed by tribes. It was integrated into KP province following the constitutional reform on May 31st, 2018.

(MOFA Overseas Travel Alerts in Pakistan, 31 July 2018)

February 1, 2019 in Pakistan |

01/15/2019

Shiokaze Dining: a “Children`s Diner” event at Tsugaruishi in Miyako-shi, Iwate Prefecture

JEN is currently supporting Shiokaze Kitchen and ShiokazeDining, a dining facility for children from impoverished households, hosted by the Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council in the Iwate Prefecture.

              In a nation where 1 in 7 children are impoverished, poverty levels in single-mother households exceed 50%. These statistics hold true for families in Miyako-shi as well, and of the consultations the Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council receives from families in the area, many of them are from single-mother households.

         Shiokaze Kitchen serves as a monthly place where the parents and children from those households, along with the staff members of the Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council and volunteers, come together to make and eat meals together. It also provides a place for the children to have fun, and to talk to older members of the community about any concerns they may have.

               However, many of the Shiokaze Kitchen events in the past have been hosted in the urban areas of the region, and as a result, many families were unable to participate due to the distance. So, the Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council aimed to focus on three major points when starting their own “Children`s Diner” facility, Shiokaze Dining.

  1. All families, even those living in rural communities, being able to access the “Children`s diner”
  2. Having the members of the community take part in the “Children`s Diner” to facilitate a deeper understanding of the circumstances the children face
  3. Including all children from the community to prevent separation and exclusion of the impoverished children and create an inclusive environment for all, regardless of household income

 

And for the first time, the Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council was able to host Shiokaze Dining. Over 20 children and their parents participated in the event, and was a great success.

 

Because this was the first ShiokazeDining event ever hosted, the event started with all the volunteers coming together and introducing themselves, and then they were off to cooking! The menu for this event included salad, rice balls, and Tonjiru, a pork miso soup.

Th_01_201901300x225

Meal Prepping

              The children participated in the rice ball prepping process. With the help of the volunteers, lots of rice balls were made, and the kitchen was filled with the smiles of all the participants.

Th_02_201901300x225

Rice Ball Making

              And the meals were complete! Pieces of fruit and pickles donated from the members of the community were added on to the side, and a tasty lunch was successfully made. The children sat and talked with the adults sitting around them, and seemed to have had a fun time interacting with them. The phrase “Oishi! (Delicious!)” could be heard numerous times during the event.

Th_03_201901300x225
Meal Complete!

              After everyone finished eating, all of the participants moved to the big hall, located inside the community center, where they were able to play games and hang out. Activities such as board games, quoits, drawing, and piano playing were provided, and the kids seemed to have a fun time with the high school volunteers.

Th_04_201901300x225

Post-meal hangout time

Th_05_201901300x225

              After the event had come to an end, all of the volunteers came together and had some time to reflect on the success of the event. Many of the volunteers pitched in their ideas on the event. “A lot of the kids told me they wanted to come back again.” “The kids seemed to really enjoy making the rice balls, so we should definitely have a menu next time that allows the kids to participate in that way.” “We should also make snacks and sweets next time, like doughnuts!” are just some of the ideas the volunteers brought up. We hope that this event will continue to provide a fun and inclusive place for all children from the Tsugaruishi community.

January 15, 2019 in Tohoku Earthquake |

12/12/2018

The document used at the Tohoku Partner Meeting, “The key to community partnership” is now available for download

The Tohoku Partner Meeting, which brought together all of the partner organizations of JEN’s Tohoku operations, was held on September 4th and 5th, 2018 at the Hotel City Plaza Kitakami, a lodging and conference facility found near Kitakami Station in the Iwate Prefecture. This year, members of 5 partner organizations from various parts of the Tohoku region participated in this meeting.

<Participating Organizations>

  • Inclu-Iwate*: Hosts “Children’s Diner”, which serves as a place of gathering for single-parent households. (Morioka-shi, Iwate Prefecture)
  • Men’s Caregiving Classroom: Supports males working in the caregiver field, including care managers, doctors, nutritionists, dental field professionals, etc. (Ishinomaki-shi, Miyagi Prefecture)
  • SAVE TAKATA: Promotes community development and collaboration between adults and middle and high school students. (Rikuzentakata-shi, Iwate Prefecture)
  • Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association: Provides midwife support for mothers and children, and promotes breastfeeding and baby food assistance from various professionals, such as doctors, nutritionists, and childcare workers.
  • Miyako-shi Social Welfare Council: Hosts “Children’s Diner”, which serves as a place of gathering for single-parent households. (Miyako-shi, Iwate Prefecture)

* JEN no longer provides financial support for Inclu-Iwate, but continues operational interactions and support.           

Although each organization’s activities differ, their main objectives, to empower the people of the community by utilizing the preexisting strengths of the community and the strong bonds between the community members, are the same.

In this meeting, two things were accomplished.

  1. Exchanging knowledge and insights that each organization had accumulated from the past
  2. Conducting interview technique training, which is often used as a means for maximizing the efficiency in obtaining knowledge when conducting various projects within the community (Instructor: Mr. Tanaka Hiroshi, Representative Director of General Corporation Participatory Evaluation Center)

During this meeting, we discussed ways on increasing the number of supporters from the local community. The partner organizations provided us with various methods they use to gain more supporters from the community, such as utilizing the internet and flyers to output information, and overall, this meeting was very productive and insightful.

The documents that were used in this meeting “The key to community partnership” can now be downloaded from the link below.

Download “The key to community partnership” here

December 12, 2018 in Tohoku Earthquake |

11/27/2018

Water is Life; Providing safe drinking water to those in the District Kurram

Drinking safe and clean water is a basic right all humans possess, but over time, as the world population increases, it becomes more difficult for everyone to access clean drinking water. Pakistan is one country that has been facing this issue, and requires immediate attention in order to find a solution to the issue. According to WaterAid, a non-governmental, non-profit organization focused on water and hygiene problems globally, Pakistan has ranked ninth in the ″The list of top 10 countries with lowest access to clean water″, and of the 207 million people living in Pakistan today, over 21 million of them have no means of accessing clean water.

Along with UNOCHA, our partner organization, JEN has been working on constructing and repairing water supply schemes in the most underdeveloped regions of Kurram district of Pakistan. JEN is currently in the research phase, and has been visiting low-income regions and regions especially in need of clean water to conduct analysis of those areas.

These areas are surrounded by beautiful forests and spring water sources, but there is no means of transporting that clean spring water to villages and individual houses, and therefore, the area continues to suffer from the lack of access to clean water. Additionally, water transportation pipes that were previously constructed have completely worn out, and now carry contaminated water. Sources of spring water themselves lack any means of preservation, and have become contaminated leading to problems such as frequent diarrhea and other illnesses related to ingesting that water.

Pk20181127_01

Spring water sources exist in some villages, but due to the increase in population and the lack of an established system to distribute the limited water source to all, not everyone is able to access the water. For example, in the village of Manrho kalay, a spring water source exists, but residents of the village are unable to access clean water.

Pk20181127_02

Because this village is in serious need of a clean water source, the JEN team chose to set up the water supply scheme in this location. Upon conducting technological analysis of the region, the team came to the realization that this village is the most in need of this water source scheme. The people of the region were very excited and eager about being able to drink safe water in the near future. The elder of the village warmly welcomed the team, and supported them throughout the analysis period, and were very thankful of the team`s contribution to the village.

Pk20181127_03
Pk20181127_04

 

November 27, 2018 in Pakistan |