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02/28/2008

Caring for the Heart

080226_3 In Batticaloa province, we are providing psychological counseling to victims of conflict.

Local social workers observe our fishnet-making sessions, and by talking to some of the participants, they identify people that show signs of trauma or bearing family problems. After these individuals have been identified, psychology professionals listen to their stories individually and create opportunities for families to discuss their issues together. These are the ways we can support psychological stress and problems.

In January, the social workers conducted music therapy with instruments in their hands. Music calms the soul, and alleviates psychological stress.

080226_4 Psychological counseling does not yield immediate effects; the results are something that will become apparent only over time. However, for these individuals that have suffered long years of conflict or the trauma of the tsunami, it is an essential component of aid. The JEN staff are doing our very best to cover the wide variety of needs experienced by those facing ongoing conflict or disaster.

February 28, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

A Heartfelt Ceremony

Thanks to both the support of you and the Japan Platform, our project that started in April last year was completed on January 31st, 2008.

By the end of January, we had been able to install wells and school sanitation facilities in five schools, which had the highest needs. To celebrate we conducted a handing-over ceremony in which community members, facility management members, the community chief, the school principal, local water/sanitation workers, education affiliates, and the Commissioner of Lainya were all present.

The Commissioner stated, ‘There have been many NGOs active in Lainya, but JEN is the first one to formally hold a handing-over ceremony such as this one. This is truly appreciated’. He continued, ‘we are extremely pleased that you have completed the work we agreed on together without abandoning the project partway through. While we hope JEN will expand and continue their activities elsewhere, we also hope JEN will return to Terekeka!’ We were overjoyed to receive such kind words; it was a special day and these positive comments filled my heart with joy.

February 28, 2008 in South Sudan |

Fresh Sentiments in the Air in Iketani and Iriyama

080226 We have successfully completed the four sessions of Snow Busters this year. This year, we established the ‘Snow Removal Training Hall’, and all volunteers received training allowing them to go up onto the roofs of houses to remove the snow. 

Seeing the volunteers climb up onto the roofs, the village people noted happily, ‘If they brush up on a few more skills, we can entrust them to do the parts that we are unable to do!’

During the same period, the Tookamachi Regional Development Planning Committee held a workshop in which there was a engaging 7-hour discussion in which they exchanged opinions on ways to both ‘enliven the village, and ensure its sustainability,’ Members considered that, ‘having new inhabitants was an indispensable component to the sustainability of this village, but pondered, ‘How should we go about attracting new inhabitants?’

080226_2 The answer to this issue will not come easily. However, what is important is the new sentiment in the air, the hope that this year will be one in which the village people will consider and act for the future of their village.

February 28, 2008 in Niigata |

Caring for the Heart

080226 In Batticaloa province, we are providing psychological counseling to victims of conflict.

Local social workers observe our fishnet-making sessions, and by talking to some of the participants, they identify people that show signs of trauma or bearing family problems. After these individuals have been identified, psychology professionals listen to their stories individually and create opportunities for families to discuss their issues together. These are the ways we can support psychological stress and problems.

In January, the social workers conducted music therapy with instruments in their hands. Music calms the soul, and alleviates psychological stress. 080226_2

Psychological counseling does not yield immediate effects; the results are something that will become apparent only over time. However, for these individuals that have suffered long years of conflict or the trauma of the tsunami, it is an essential component of aid. The JEN staff are doing our very best to cover the wide variety of needs experienced by those facing ongoing conflict or disaster.

February 28, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

02/21/2008

The Appearance of Men ~ Key to a Happy Marriage

221 (Continued from previous entry)
 ‘Men also make an effort to look attractive for their partners,’

The men talked about how they must always appear clean and tidy, and wear the cologne that their wife likes. They think that such efforts are necessary, that it is the key to a happy marriage! 

Men crowd the perfume stores in the shopping districts of Arab countries that are lined with a variety of perfumes. I hear from Muslims that in the Hadith (sayings by the Prophet Muhammad), which is considered just as important as the Koran, there are many references that express the need to respect your wife.

My friend showed me a picture of him and his wife taken at their home during their wedding anniversary. The picture showed a cheerful woman with light makeup and beautiful hair. What left an impression on me was the warm look that they were giving each other in the picture.

Just as with any religion or culture, there may be Muslim women that behave in a modest manner. However, it is limiting to make judgments based on biased information or generalizations. I think it is important to put ourselves into their shoes as we come into contact with all types of lifestyles and ideologies. This might be a roundabout way in order to pursue a project that suits the locals’ needs, but it is important as I am gaining new perspectives on culture on a daily basis.

February 21, 2008 in Iraq |

Afghanistan is the Link

080219 It has been four months since we moved the operation center for our Afghanistan mission to the neighboring country, Pakistan.

Here in Pakistan it is very easy to see the things that Pakistan and Afghanistan have in common. Actually, many second and third generation Afghans live in the regions where there are large former-refugee populations. Amongst these people, there are some whom have never even been to Afghanistan.

These people show great enthusiasm when I greet them in Dali, or tell them that I was recently in Afghanistan. In fact, sometimes I even get discounts and additional vegetables when I go to the local vegetable store!

These people, despite being Afghan, have never been to Afghanistan. Yet I, Japanese, have lived in Afghanistan and am now using Pakistan as a platform of exchange and interaction. It is a strange phenomenon, but it was a moment that provided warmth to my heart.

(PICTURE: A juice-stand in the market)

February 21, 2008 in Afghanistan |

02/07/2008

Reasons to Break the Wall

080205part_of_wall_destroyed_rabat Last December, a man who is known as the Head of the village unexpectedly claimed that a portion of the school was being built on his own land. In his anger, he proceeded to destroy one of the school walls that were still undergoing construction.

(PICTURE: The broken wall)
From the very offset of this project, village representatives, teaching staff, the school principle, and the members of the education council were put together to constitute a well-balanced School Management Committee, whose very purpose was to avoid such problems. Under this Committee, JEN felt that we are doing our best to both prevent and resolve conflicts involving rights to information and land.

However in spite of our efforts, a problem had arisen is the midst of such a small village and the explanation for this can be linked to many factors.

One possible cause is employment. In a remote region where the unemployment rate is close to 100%, a construction of a school provides a unique opportunity for employment. However, this chance of employment cannot possible benefit everyone; it is possible that bitter sentiments due to the missed opportunity may have been the root of this conflict. Often armed groups that have been active through the time of the Cold War or civil war may be behind such problems.

Both the aforementioned causes contributed to our problem. As these individuals are armed, even the village leader has a hard time persuading them to compromise. Finally, the Head was convinced by the School Management Committee to step aside.

This shows that it may be some time before we can reach peaceful times here in Afghanistan.

February 7, 2008 in Afghanistan |

The Appearance of Women

27 Local staff members not only have conversations about the progress of the project, or the Iraqi situation, sometimes daily conversation extends to cover topics such as Arab culture and the teachings of Islam.

The other day the topic of women’s fashion came up. Though Jordan consists largely of Muslim believers, it has a relatively liberal atmosphere. However, while some women stride through the city wearing fitted, glamorous clothes and makeup, the reality of the situation is that the majority of women cover themselves entirely wearing a headscarf and light makeup.

The wife of one of our staff is one such woman that seems to favour a more conservative and reserved dress sense. Following Islamic values, she dresses in a way that does not draw attention to her when she goes out. However, we learnt that when she returns home, she applies makeup before her husband comes home:  ‘This is normal!’ he answers and smiles, ‘of course, it’s only for me to see!’ he adds.

If this story ended here, modern opinion may have you thinking that ‘Islamic women are still living in the shadows of men…’ However, his story continues…

February 7, 2008 in Iraq |