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In the Future (a memory of a field officer)

0307_ The projects I devoted myself to in Afghanistan involved daily dialogue with people exposing the realities of their lives.  I left Afghanistan, therefore, with a belief in the need for solidarity among Afghan communities.

JEN had played an important role in empowering individuals by increasing assets and restoring a sense of safety and stability through our assistance projects.  However, these conventional, individual-based relief activities began to be replaced by new strategies based upon building strength among communities in order for sustainable, long-term development. Photo_67 

I realised that to do this a psychological approach was essential: after a disaster, during which society has completely broken down, people’s fears to survive prevent them from working together.  First, there is a need to work to regain solidarity amongst those people.  Only when the solidarity is restored can the community start to become more self-reliant.

Afghanistan is a country exhausted by twenty years of struggle.  JEN must continue our projects until the day when the Afghan people recognise a world where they live in confidence and with respect and in mutual support of each other.

March 29, 2007 in Afghanistan |


Letters to Iketani

Photo_56 Letters arrive in the village of Iketani from around Japan.  People who ordered rice from the village send grateful messages to farmers, sometimes with smiling pictures.  Those warm messages circulate through the village on their community bulletin.  The farmers are delightful to learn that the rice they had raised with the utmost care has brought happiness to people around Japan.

One of the purposes of the direct distribution of rice from Iketani is to create a link between farmers in the small village and people in big cities.  Since January, customers receive not only rice but also “Rice News”, a handmade newsletter from farmers.  Let’s write a letter to the farmers!

March 22, 2007 in Niigata |

Village Boys

N_3  A trainer of JEN’s fishnet workshops talked about his first visit to a target village.  On the way back from the workshop, local boys asked him to drive them to towns.  The trainer refused, it is impossible for him to give them such a privilege.  Then the boys threatened him: “Never step in our village again!”  Unfortunately, the same story often occurs to trainers in other villages.

A psychologist analysed the boys’ aggressive reaction.  He pointed out two influential factors.  First, the boys have not been disciplined well because their fathers are often away from home fishing.  Second, the boys are mistrusting and insecure for some of their fathers are alcoholic and often get violent for no reason.

JEN’s staff tried to bring village boys out of their shell.  Using our principle of listening to them patiently with a respect for each boy’s personality, instead of blaming them for their aggressive attitude.

After one month had passed, JEN won the children’s confidence.  Boys show positive changes toward JEN’s staff.  Now they look forward to seeing the staff after school to talk about themselves, even discussing their own worries about their family, their future, and their trauma of the tsunami.

March 22, 2007 in Sri Lanka |


Women in Jordan

In Jordan, a Japanese female is always mistaken for a Philippine at every corner around the town.  So is at JEN’s office in Amman, agents come to mistake a Japanese program officer for a Philippine servant.  One day an agent spoke to her at the door:

“I want to see your father or mother”. 

Sounds as if he came across a little girl, but he simply meant in broken English: “call your Master or Madam”. 

That happens because many female servants immigrate to Jordan from Philippine, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. 

070315_1 A woman from Sri Lanka has been working in Jordan for ten years.  She migrated after having worked for several years in a factory right after completing secondary school.  She got through her initial struggle to keep up with housework and Arabic language.  Now she speaks Arabic and English fluently.  She still studies English eagerly every day and night.  Meanwhile, she never forgets to send remittance to her family in Sri Lanka. 

Working in Jordan seems to make her stronger despite any difficulties.

March 15, 2007 in Iraq |


Beyond Circles

Jpf_2207_1 JEN has conducted a gardening project in Marganpura and Metserana, a newly plotted village for the resettlement of victims of the previous tsunami.  The initial obstacle to the project is factions within the village itself.  People from the same camp formed close circles and shut themselves to strangers from different towns.  Such divided circles hindered community-based collaboration that JEN’s workshop was based upon.

However, JEN’s social workers successfully brought participants from different circles together in complete harmony in the gardening workshop.  Farming together on a hot day drives participants to share in the achievement of hard physical work a sense of solidarity with others whose origins are different from their own.  Now village people enjoy chatting together over various topics while collaborating without any noticeable divides.

March 8, 2007 in Sri Lanka |


Winter Clothes for Children

JEN distributed winter clothes to 254 schoolchildren in the village of Bringbun, Heveli in the Province of Bagh last October.  The Mitsui Sumitomo Smile Hart Club and the Japan Knitting Association kindly contributed all of the woollen knits for the children, such as, sweaters, vests, scarves and caps. 

Mitsuisumitomo200610103 Memoona Batool, an 8-years-old girl says:

“I got a chestnut sweater.  I am happy with my favourite colour.  I wore it on the Eid holiday (an Islamic feast day).  It is very cold in the winter, but I am fine as I wear the sweater everyday.  Thank you Japan for the sweater.”

March 1, 2007 in Pakistan |

Iraqi Passport

070301_1 What is a big difference between a Japanese passport and an Iraqi one?  Scarcely any countries reject the Japanese one today for an entry or a visa permit.  How about the Iraqi one, how many States would welcome it on the border?


A mass exodus of refugees provoked from and within Iraq has already reached 50,000 per month.  An influx to contiguous Jordan and Syria climbed to the amount of 500 thousands to one million.  However, both asylum countries have been tightening the regulation of the Iraqi nationals on the border and on the issue of visas and residential permits. 

Still, a large number of Iraqi refugees remain in the two neighbouring countries after the expiry of their permits and hide themselves illegally. 

They are unable to receive any social services such as education.  Jordan, overloaded with the increase of refugees, has been appealing to the international society to share the burden.

March 1, 2007 in Iraq |

Anticipating Local Needs

Img_0821 Spring is approaching day by day in the village of Iketani.  As the thaw set in, people in the village begin to prepare their rice fields.  Their busiest season starts in spring and continues until harvest in autumn.

Having had little snow this winter, people are anticipating water shortage in coming summer when rice thrives the most.  Rice is the greatest treasure of the village.  People are planning to plant rice earlier in order to protect their treasure from any possible damages from the water shortage.

JEN will follow the village’s needs and organize agricultural volunteers flexibly.  In the meantime, JEN is planning to enlarge volunteer activities as “village-revitalizing volunteers”.  The new volunteers would not only participate in agricultural activities in the depopulated village but also reanimate the village’s treasure as whole, such as, beautiful nature, experienced agriculture, and rural history and tradition.  Kindly wait for JEN’s homepage to update for further details about new volunteers!

March 1, 2007 in Niigata |