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12/27/2007

The Reconstruction of the Third School

20071227mofahotarschool_7 After a holiday known as the Festival of Sacrifice, New Year is approaching Pakistan on December 21st, slightly earlier than the Japanese New Year. It is the coldest season of the year and the mountains in Kashmir are covered in snow as usual.

Supported by the Foreign Ministry and our supporters, JEN has been reconstructing schools that collapsed following the earthquakes in Haveri, Bagh. During these freezing days, JEN has managed to complete the reconstruction of two schools.  This school will be the third school reconstructed as earthquake-proof.

JEN is currently laying the foundations of the building, which is essential for sustaining an earthquake-proof design. Unlike the two schools that have already been reconstructed, this school is located in the middle of the mountains and therefore will be functioning under very difficult conditions. We are proceeding with the project so that the children are able to go back to school as soon as possible.

December 27, 2007 in Pakistan |

12/20/2007

The Islamic Spirit in the Festival of Sacrifice

1220 In Jordan, the five consecutive days following December 18th are holidays celebrating the Festival of Sacrifice.

For the Festival of Sacrifice, each Muslim family is expected to offer one sheep, cow or camel as a sacrifice if it is economically feasible for the family to do so. This custom has its roots in a historical story. In this story, the Prophet Ibrahim offered his son to Allah, as a sacrifice yet Allah understanding the strength of his religious devotion, told him he should sacrifice a lamb instead. 

Sheep are the main choice of sacrifice in Iraq and Jordan. According to the laws of Islam, the family should keep one third of the sacrifice, give another third of it to their relatives, and give the last third to their poor neighbors.  Billboards advertising sheep could be seen all over Amman before the Festival of Sacrifice. An organization, Um Ali, collects donations from these billboards in order to provide meals to the poor. Um Ali derives its name from Prince Ali’s mother, the late princess Alia, wife of the former King Hussein. It is clear that Islam places a strong emphasis on making contributions to the poor.

December 20, 2007 in Iraq |

Iketani’s Day of Re-Departure

P1050362 On December 14th, a ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the re-building of the Iketani village Meeting House. Tenjin-bayashi(*1) was performed at the beginning of the ceremony and during the banquet, foods from the local area were served. It ended up being a wonderful ceremony filled with the character of Iketani village. Surface damage caused by the Chuetsu Earthquake has now mostly disappeared after the completion of repairs to the meetinghouse.

The meeting house is named “Blooming Iketani”(Minoru Ikedan)(*2) as Iketani has now begun selling rice and local special products. In this way, the path of recovery in Iketani/Iriyama has also begun.

“Snow Busters”, as everyone already knows, is starting in January. Please come and visit the re-built Meeting House and see how village residents are taking steps forward.P1050385

(*1)Tenjin-bayashi is an old celebration song of Iketani. Usually it is sung after two or three drinks during the banquet.

(*2)Ikedan means Iketani in the Iketani dialect. Today, people still call Iketani, “Ikedan” with an affectionate attachment.

December 20, 2007 in Niigata |

12/13/2007

Finally Completed Using Three Pillars

Wss_bhs_fateh_pur_1_resize It has started to snow on the project site in Pakistan again this year. It has been the third winter for the province of Bagh in Haveli County since the earthquake. The project that JEN has been carrying out was introduced in a local newspaper. In the article, appreciation for JEN was mentioned for carrying out the project immediately after the earthquake. It also described how the education environment for children had dramatically improved as a result of water and hygiene projects within schools supported by JEN.

Finally, the water and hygiene projects for 120 schools have been completed. The projects are executed under the guidelines of three pillars; first, temporary toilets, next, improvement and maintenance of water supply systems and finally, hygiene education. The children used to drink water and wash their hands at a distant river or a spring near the school. However, they are now able to have lessons without interruption by such inconveniences. In addition, due to the hygiene education provided alongside the installation of toilets and water supplies, the health condition of the children has been improved.  For instance, the number of children suffering from diarrhea symptom has significantly decreased.

December 13, 2007 in Pakistan |

The Water Project is in its Final Stages: Part 1

Photo Hygiene education that we have been conducting in Terekeka and Lainya County of Central Equatoria state is coming to a close. At the same time, we are starting a training program to discuss with the community members on how to maintain and repair wells in areas where JEN is constructing wells and latrines. 

From December 9th, JEN went to Terekeka County to prepare for the training on wells, and met ten of the local community members, in addition to those who generously provided us with space for training. Photo_2

Mr. Cosmas who has put together an NGO in Lainya County, and is also a government water sanitation official and Mr. Amule, a member of that NGO, will be conducting the training.  These two people are very knowledgeable on wells, and have work experience in NGOs that work closely with water related issues.  The training started from Monday the 10th in Terekeka County. 

December 13, 2007 in South Sudan |

12/06/2007

In Order for Peace to not be a Fleeting Moment

Dsc00069 The JEN project in Sri Lanka organized a capacity development workshop at five Fishery Cooperative Societies in the Vakarai Division of Batticaloa District. This was part of a larger assistance program of supporting the Internally Displaced People’s reintegration. The workshop intended to raise awareness and improve livelihoods.

Vakarai, where JEN has its assistance program, is located in the eastern corner of Sri Lanka. It has been one of the primary focuses of international attention as the civil war between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has devastated the area since the 1990s. In addition to this, the tsunami of December 2004 also hit the coastal areas, and the massive operation led by the government’s troops against the LTTE in January 2007 is still fresh in people’s memories.

People in Vakarai have gone through evacuation and resettlement eight times in just the past two decades. Back in their homes, they hardly dare hope to believe in a life free from the control of the LTTE or a peace that will last long. They are reluctant to reconstruct their livelihoods as they no longer believe that the stability can last so what they need now is renewed hope of sustainable recovery and a new sense of self-confidence. Dsc00179

There were between 50 to 80 local people participating in each workshop. JEN’s professional staff held lectures on the function of the Self Support Group and the importance of raising awareness. The lectures also included a variety of icebreakers and games to keep up participant concentration and interest.

December 6, 2007 in Sri Lanka |

Decisions Made at the Workshop

Just as we thought it was going to be a late winter this year, all of the sudden it turned into a winter picture. Snowydays have been increasing.

The preparation for the completion ceremony held for the renewal of the meetinghouse, which is to be held mid-month, is almost ready. The meetinghouse in Iketani was damaged by two earthquakes, however, it is finally it is getting repaired. People will dress in formal clothes on the day of completion ceremony. For this rare formal ceremony, people are filled with hope and also a little anxiety.

Right now, a workshop entitled “Iketani/Iriyama from Now On” and “Discussion of Important Matters” is held couple of times a month in Iketani/Iriyama. Last time, we talked about the completion ceremony and an inspection tour of progressive areas. Things confirmed at the workshop included the policy: “When doing an event, divide up the roles but put one person in charge”.

When doing an event in the village in the past, because there are only a few people, people did things together without putting anyone in charge. However, we have heard that in other area's village revitalization was most successful using this method of putting a leader in each role. Villagers agreed with this and chose the leaders for each role of the completion ceremony. 

When doing bigger events from now on, it will be important to cooperate with various groups and people. In order to do so, it is important to put someone in charge and administrate systematically.  

JEN will further support in any way possible the Tokamachi Regional Development Planning Committee to become more systematic and efficient.

December 6, 2007 in Niigata |

A Gesture of Respect

126 While I was clearing away some photos of students taken in front of an old school that had yet to be rebuilt, I felt a little uncomfortable at seeing the children with their arms crossed in some of the pictures.

In Japan, crossing our arms in front of people of seniority such as teachers is considered rude. Upon asking a local staff members about this, I was told that especially in elementary school, students cross their arms in order to express respect for their teachers. I felt much better understanding that rather than a gesture of defiance, this was a gesture of respect shown by children towards their teachers. On the other hand, it seems that it is unusual to cross arms to those of similar age groups.

There have been reports on the improvements of the security situation in Iraq since November; however political turmoil is not over yet. It is too early to tell whether such positive trends will continue.

Every time I see pictures of these children, I hope for the day when they smile from the bottom of their hearts.

December 6, 2007 in Iraq |