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A Borderless World in Sudan

20071017_sudan_jpf_lainya_committee In Southern Sudan, which has experienced the longest period of internal war among the African nations, it is more likely to see goods and products from surrounding nations rather than those originated from Sudan itself.

For instance, currency.  We often see currencies of neighboring countries used in Sudan’s markets; in Lainya county, which is close to the border of Uganda, the currency of Uganda is widely used.  Also, states near Ethiopia use Ethiopian currencies, and the same is said to be true for states near Kenya.

Another example is the use of mobile phone.  The most popular and most accessible mobile phone company in Juba, Gemtel, which has its origin in Uganda, uses the international phone code of Uganda for its cell phone numbers. 

Therefore, if you wish to communicate with a Sudan person having a cell phone number with Sudan’s international phone code, the communication will be considered as an international phone call even if the two persons are physically located inside the same city of Juba.

October 25, 2007 in South Sudan |

When you use a PC in an Arabic country

1025 It is well known that the Arabic language is written from right to left.  Are you interested to know how it is handled when you type Arabic into a PC?  This photo is from the computer screen of our local staff.  It reads “Hello to the supporters of JEN’s activities!” in Arabic.  The PC needs to be set up so that the cursor moves from the right to left by clicking an icon, what is also interesting is that the numbers go from right to left as in Japanese while the words go vice versa.  When numbers are typed in, the order changes automatically as shown in the photo so that it shows “2007”.  You can select either Indian numbers or Arabic numbers.1025_2

  You have to handle two different keyboards when you make English materials, since the Arabic keyboard is specially designed and cannot type in Roman Characters.  To write in Roman Characters, you have to switch it the other way around.

October 25, 2007 in Iraq |

The day to go to the sea is coming soon.

Photo Thanks to the Japan Platform and supporters, manufacturing of boats for the Fisheries Cooperative Societies (FCSs) has started as a part of the returnees support program in Vakarai, Batticaloa.

Based on the records of Ministry of Fisheries, fisherman in the Vakarai area lost 109 boats after the conflict in January. JEN will be supporting the FCSs, which suffered the biggest damage, by providing two boats each, in total twenty boats.

Photo_2 This area suffered huge damage due to the Tsunami at the end of 2004, after that, a lot of boats were distributed by the supporting associations. However, several of these distributed boats were manufactured with disregard to the surrounding environment, and some were manufactured focusing on speed rather than quality. As a result, some distributed boats were unfortunately unusable.

Learning from past experience, we organized the boat manufacturing to be done by a local, reputable boat manufacturing company and based designs on the recommendations of the fisherman involved in this project.

Boats are now in the course of manufacture by putting dozens of fiberglass together to ensure endurance and waterproof properties. All 20 boats are scheduled to be completed by the end of January 2008.

October 25, 2007 in Sri Lanka |


3:00 AM in Bagh

2007octpk Ramadan finally ended after a full month. Project site visits during Ramadan were quite impressive.

All the staffs in the project field in Pakistan eat and sleep together. During Ramadan, our local staff could not eat during day.  So, instead, they woke up at 3am in the morning to have breakfast, then went back to sleep. During daytime, they visited and observed the project sites and after the sunset around 6pm they ate Iftar (the food for after Ramadan). 

The most popular and frequent topic among the staff during this period was “where to have Iftar”. Many people at the project sites invited the staff to their houses for Iftar. Staff could enjoy very nice Iftar at a school principal’s, at the landlord’s, a different place, every day.    

During Ramadan, it is prohibited to drink even water during the day. We provided clean water to schools and saw the children drinking water but we had to endure the thirst! At the same time, it was a very good experience to help us appreciate the situation of having water running from taps all the time.   

October 18, 2007 in Pakistan |

November 3rd is a Harvest festival! In Iketani/Iriyama

P1030615_4 The season of the Harvest festival has come this year!
We will have a lot of events like treasure hunt and art events.If you would like to join as a volunteer, please choose to stay either 3 nights and 4 days or 2 nights and 3 days.

Visitors on the day are also welcomed!

2007 Iketani/Iriyama Harvest festival Agenda

Date & Time: Saturday, November 3rd, 2007
13:00-13:15 Reception
13:30-14:45 Treasure Hunt
14:45-15:45 Summary of Treasure Hunt/Announcement
1600-17:30 Symposium (Theme: Look back at the three-year activities in Iketani/Iriyama after the Great Chuetsu Earthquake, and think about the way to go for the villages to survive.
17:30-18:30 Performance of Hishiba-no-kaiP1030676_2
18:30-18:45 Preparation of the dinner at the Harvest festival
18:45-19:15 Greeting from the guests (Mayor of Tokachi-machi and etc.)
19:15-21:00 Dinner
21:00-21:05 Adjourn

October 18, 2007 in Niigata |

A Committee to Manage Wells and Toilets Has Been Established

20071017_sudan_jpf_lainya_committee A Committee to Manage Wells and Toilets Has Been Established

Here is the update on the project to improve water sanitation conditions at schools; this has been fully supported by the Japan Platform and other supporters.

JEN will be undertaking the construction of toilet facilities and drilling of wells at five schools at Lainya and Terekeka counties.  Prior to this, in three schools at Lainya, a committee to manage water sanitation facilities has been established consisting of school staff members and local residents.

20071017_sudan_jpf_lainya_committ_2 The committee will be in charge of holding meetings between the school members and local residents with regard to the determination of the location of drilling and construction sites and providing necessary services to local construction/drilling companies.  In addition the committee will also be responsible for maintenance of the facilities after the completion of the construction.  JEN will be in charge of undertaking training sessions for the maintenance of toilet facilities and fixing of wells.P1000174_2

Upon the establishment of the committee, a cooperation agreement has been signed between the committee and JEN.  The officers from the education and water department of the County also attended the signing ceremony.  Immediately following the signing, a discussion has been held with regard to the location of well drilling and construction of toilet facilities.

October 18, 2007 in South Sudan | | TrackBack (0)


The 20th “Ohanasi-tai” – Last activity

Img_2464_2 We papered the rest of the sliding doors and prepared for and held the networking event.  The weather was on our side all the time, and we could enjoy the fine autumn weather.  “Ohanasi-tai” started on August 3rd.  We experienced so many things and gradually could gain the understanding of the Betsuyama people in order to have a good relationship with them.
When we started the preparation for the networking event, we assumed 60 people would come.  However, to our surprise, over 120 people came and joined us.  The meal we prepared was only just enough for them.

Our aim is that through mutual effort, the people from Betsuyama and Iketani/Iriyama in Tokamachi, and volunteers, hold this networking event. It should not be a one-sided approach.

On the morning of the networking event, the tripartite prepared the meal vigorously.  For the entertainment of the party, people from Betsuyama sang festival Mai and music, people from Tokamachi danced around to live music, “Ohanasi-tai” volunteers sang and performed, while people from Katakuri-no-sato played a violin.  All of us played a part and communicated well with each other, we believe.

Img_2407_2_3  Also, people from Iketani/Iriyama in Tokamachi damaged by the Great Chuetsu Earthquake three years ago cheered up people from Betsuyama.  They invited Betsuyama people to the Harvest festival held in November 3rd in Iketani/Iriyama.

This was the last activity of “Ohanasi-tai” but we would like to keep assisting Betsuyama in the same ways as we support Iketani/Iriyama.  Your continuous support to the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake would be greatly appreciated.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt appreciation for all your big supports to JEN “Ohanasi-tai”.  Thank you.

October 16, 2007 in Niigata |


The 19th “Ohanasi-tai”

P1050215 This time we papered sliding doors (SHOJI) at the village center and residences.  The members were good at putting papers on sliding doors and we were able to finish so fast and the Town Chairman was very surprised.  We put approximately over 300 papers on the doors, this time in the Betsuyama area.  We did not expect that we would paper sliding doors in the disaster area when we started our activities.

We tried to support effectively while prioritizing mental health care as the most important thing. So, while we cleaned the houses, we tried to make people happy, chatting while putting on the papers and making close relationships with the afflicted people like one big family.

After all, we became “Shoji-hari-tai”, not “Ohanasi-tai”.

We do not know how much we could contribute to the removal of blue sheets from Betsuyama, but would hope at least we were able to show support by papering slide doors as a visible activity of reconstruction.

October 11, 2007 in Niigata |

Kabul: Just an ordinary scene

111007_cimg1353  We often see schoolgirls, aged from five and six years old to the junior high students dressed in traditional style school uniforms, all black with a white scarf, walking on the road to the girls school nearby our Kabul office.  It is nothing special, but nevertheless, heartwarming, to see a small girl trying hard to catch up with elder students who are chatting and laughing with her friends.

I see a good future for Afghanistan by looking at this.  It is hard to imagine, but once girls were not educated in this area.  There are many schools we need to rebuild or repair damaged by the long internal war, but it is important to provide a place that all the students can study without worries.

October 11, 2007 in Afghanistan | | TrackBack (0)

That’s “Made in Japan”

In Juba, there are a lot of Japanese cars.  Not only the cars of UN institutions and NGOs, but also the buses and other vehicles in the city used by Juba citizens are secondhand cars imported from Japan. 
It seems that for a car to be imported from Japan is a kind of status symbol.  There are many cars with the names of the organizations and shops of the previous Japanese owners, printed on the side of the car. 

For example, “xx-pre-school”, “xx-swimming school”, “xx-glass store”, “xx-transportation” etc…  There are also trucks that make announcements in Japanese such as “Back Shimasu (this truck will reverse),” accompanied with electric noises when they reverse.
Just think: cars previously owned by people reading this blog might be running through Juba right now, supporting the lives of its citizens. 

October 11, 2007 in South Sudan |

Ramadan, Fasting

1011 The end of Ramadan, the fasting month of Islamic calendar that started on September 13th, is approaching. In Amman, houses are alive with electrical spectaculars of Islamic symbols such as the moon and stars in preparation for Ramadan.

In Jordan during this period, “devout” Muslim abstain from food between 5.00 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. I imagine it would be much harder to tolerate thirst rather than hunger because they cannot drink anything either.

Because the period of Ramadan is becoming earlier year-by-year based on the western calendar, fasting may take place in the heat of the summer hereafter. It is difficult for me to image working while fasting in Baghdad, where it exceeds 50 degrees in the hottest part of summer.

After sunset, the family comes together for a meal called ‘Iftar’ to break the fast. They frequently have this dinner with their friends.

They read the Koran, give to the poor, and promote bonding among family members. Ramadan is a special month for devout Muslims, while other less-devout Muslims can be seen sneaking a snack during the day.

October 11, 2007 in Iraq |


The 18th “Ohanashi-tai”

P1050207 This time, we helped with the moving process by we re-papered sliding doors (called Shoji), moved the straw mats (called Tatami).

Thanks to the effort of Ohanashi-tai members,  JEN Ohanashi-tai started being recognized in the Betsuyama area.  Local people told us, “Thank you for your constant efforts in Betsuyama” even though some of them have not been helped by Ohanashi-tai.

We are very glad to be spoken to by local people like this.  In addition, we often feel that it is wonderful that the local people love the Betsuyama area as they love themselves

This time, we re-papered the Shoji with a lady in a family.  Her skill for papering Shoji was absolutely fantastic.  We had no doubt that our own skill must have improved as we observed her excellent skill.

However, the next day, we visited another family and started re-papering the Shoji full of confidence, and we realized our actual skill for it….  With our effort, we finally managed to complete re-paper all the Shoji by sunset.

In another house, there is elderly person living alone and they asked to clear up TATAMI.  They seemed happy with not only our activity but also having a cup of tea and chatting with us.

The earthquake must have been tough experience for elderly people living alone.  They are frustrated and there is no person to ask some advice and to moan.  Furthermore, their families do not live closer to help to tidy up their confusing mind.  We, Ohanashi-tai, have only limited time to talk to them.  But we will continue our activity and we wish our activity will help them, even if it is a little help.

October 8, 2007 in Niigata |


A New Office has opened.

Photo  We opened a new JEN office in the town Vakarai in Batticaloa, in the Eastern part of Sri Lanka on 1st of October.This town is the key traffic point where highways intersect and it is located about an hour distance by car from the new project area, Vakarai. Vakarai is the area, which suffered huge damages during the battle.

 We have completed carrying in most of office supplies such as desks, chairs and computers from the Southern Hanbantota office, which was closed last month.

 Different from Hanbantota area where many Buddhist Singhalese live, this area consists of mostly Hinduism Tamil and Islamism. Also, appearances and languages are different from the Southern area.
We are now interviewing candidates for project staff. Various candidates, such as those having experience with another association or those who studied in University and seek for actual experience, applied to us.

 We will soon be able to start supporting activities for fisherman in the Vakarai area immediately after establishing the new office staff. We very much appreciate your continuous support.

October 4, 2007 in Sri Lanka |

2 years after the earthquake

July07pkbedhiwcrpmotawaligps_5 It has been 2 years since the earthquake on October 8, 2005. JEN has been continuously providing educational support in Haveri, Bagh. All the people in Haveri know about JEN as we provide support everywhere including the rural areas where ordinary support faces difficulty to reach.   

We are very happy when we see JEN’s support positively and consistently reaching all the people who need it. For example, “JEN’s School Bag”, which was distributed to the children and enabled children to go back to school immediately after the earthquake, is still carried to schools every day by the children.

The memory of the earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan is gradually fading away. However, the lives of the victims are still hard and require continuous support. JEN will continuously provide support required by the local people.

October 4, 2007 in Pakistan |

A Soup Based on Kelp or Bonito?

20070815_sudan_jpf_lainya_mundu_04 Hello everyone.  This is Wakano from Juba office in the Southern Sudan; I came to this office on September 5th, and one month has passed since then.  Southern Sudan is now in the wet season.

Although I did expect this before coming to Sudan, what was most shocking was that even the water in this office is not transparent.  The degree of intransparency is such that it is as if we were looking at a kelp or bonito soup in Japan.  This is because the water used for showers, toilets, sinks and other purposes are all taken originally from the Nile river.   

Once every week, a water tank truck comes to the office.  We use the water transported by the truck.  Water is a must for our lives; we need to take a shower, wash dishes, wash toilets, boil the water to drink and to cook food.

The activity of JEN at South Sudan is to prevent diseases arising from water through the construction of toilets, drilling of wells, and general education about sanitation.2007621

In Japan, we can safely use waters as it is.  The safety of water is taken for granted by all Japanese people.  This, however, has not been the case for Sudan.  Fully understanding the hardship that the Sudan people had to undergo without the safety of water, I am determined to lead the project as much as possible.  I will do my best to improve the quality of live using safe water, and to encourage people to know more about the necessity of having a good quality of life with safe water.

October 4, 2007 in South Sudan |