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Let’s build a house

15th_july_low On the 11th of July, the distribution of the shelter kits began in Leikkyun village in Dedaye. On the day of distribution, all the villagers came to greet and welcome us. Before this day, the villagers had lived in temporary shelters build by debris from the Cyclone, or gone to live with their relatives. However, now, they have come to a stage where they can begin to rebuild their community.

The shelter kits that JEN contains building materials enough for one home. After the distribution of material needed to the residents, the building process commence with the aid of a construction company. The photograph shows a glimpse of the assembly of a house being built by the locals. With 7 or 8 people, a house can be built within merely a day. The lifetime of these houses can last a good 2-3 years, and with further maintenance it can last even longer.

JEN determined the size and materials of these homes by consulting the local construction company to ensure sustainability of homes suit for the natural environment of Myanmar. . The villages expressed with joy that they ‘felt safe in homes that were built with familiar building materials’. We are now looking to gather more supplies and provisions for further development in other villages and regions. We are happy to report that preparations are going smoothly.

July 17, 2008 in Myanmar |


The cradle left behind

10_july_08 The cradle on the tree in the picture belongs to a villager; he left it behind after he lost his wife and children in Labutta.

During the Cyclone, desperate to save his dear child, he put the child in a cradle and left it up on a tree. However, both his wife and child were washed away and killed by the Cyclone. This man, distraught, explained,

‘I have no will to take that cradle down. I want to leave it as it is’.

There are many people in this big village that are now the only remaining member of their family. In their deep traumatic shock, they express their sadness to us.

A needs assessment was conducted in a village near the sea, which had been severely damaged by the Cyclone. Around 2/3 of the villagers perished due to this cyclone. JEN will distribute shelter kits to villages of this sort. In parts of Myanmar, villagers are cooperating to rebuild their homes.

The purpose of shelter kit distribution is to allow the villagers to cooperate in constructing a home. It is important for citizens to come together after a disaster to engage in joint projects.

Working collaboratively to rebuild a home will not heal all wounds, but JEN hopes it will lead to some form of psycho-social care, no matter how small.

July 10, 2008 in Myanmar |

When in Pakistan, do as the Pakistani do

080710_3 The season for mangoes has arrived once again here in Pakistan. The mango season in Pakistan is from May – September, and you can see mango sellers in all part of Islamabad. There are about 150 different types of mangoes in Pakistan, and any one of them is said to be the ‘best in the world’.

During the season, when you visit the house of our staff, you will be presented with a mountain of mango. ‘It is polite to eat all the mangoes on the plate!’ I was told by the local JEN Staff member, and therefore I ate mangoes every day until I was full.

In Pakistan, it is possible to buy mangoes from only JPY20. In comparison, the cheapest mango you can buy in Japan is about JPY300. For those who love mango, this country is a paradise!

July 10, 2008 in Pakistan |

Prices Rise in Jordan (Part I)

There has been severe inflation in Jordan over these past few years. From 2003 to 2008, the price of sugar (that supports the lifestyle of sweet-tooth Jordanians) has risen from JPY1,000 to JPY4,000 per 50kg, and similarly the price of 25 kilograms of rice has risen from JPY450 to JPY2,500.

There are two main reasons for this price rise:
The first is that due to the War in Iraq, the crude oil agreements with neighbouring country Iraq have failed. Prior to the war, Jordan received oil from Iraq for half its original price in exchange for Jordanian food and basic needs (there is a more favourable climate in Jordan to grow food). However, during the war from 2003, Jordan was faced with no alternative but to import oil at standard prices from countries such as Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Under the old agreement, one barrel of oil (159 litres) was US$14, but now the same amount costs US$141. Just like Japan, daily functions in Jordan depend on oil, and therefore this had a very large effect on Jordan.

July 10, 2008 in Iraq |

Khadejatul Kobra girl’s school and Chubakhshi Rabat School are Nearly Complete!

080710   With the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, various organizations and of course the supporters of JEN, two schools have been renovated. Khadejatul Kobra girl’s school and Chubakhshi Rabat school in Charikar of Parwan Province and Bagran Province are now nearly complete.

  This project started in August 2007, and is now near completion after having overcome multiple hurdles such as a deterioration of the security situation, the switch to remote management, a harsh winter, and land issues caused by the former Muhajideen Commander. Children, who have been observing the progress of the project, can’t hide their excitement over the completion of their school.080710_2 

Watching the near-complete school and the smiles of these children, it is clear that ‘assistance’ is not only the provision of the materials and the building itself, but this assistance reaches the hearts of the children as well.

July 10, 2008 in Afghanistan |


People in need

080701_low Needs assessments have been conducted in the region of Dedaye and Bogale, where there has been severe damage due to the Cyclone. As a result, it has been decided that shelter kits will be distributed to 380 families in Dedaye, and 460 families in Bogale.

People who have lost their homes have built temporary huts for themselves, or several families are living in homes that were unaffected by the Cyclone. Such temporary huts are vulnerable to strong winds and rain, and the villagers all expressed a desire to live in a safe house as soon as possible. In addition, those who are living with various other families said that, ‘I would like to live in my own family home; I don’t want to cause any inconvenience to other families’. These people are waiting for the shelter kits to be distributed.

Needs assessments are still in progress in Lambutta where it has been decided that around 1000 shelter kits will be distributed. The villages along the coast have especially been hard-hit by the Cyclone, and as the needs assessment continues, the need for shelter kits are becoming more apparent.

Furthermore, preparation for the shelter kits is under progress in Lambutta. In the target villages, all bamboo, trees, and palm trees have been washed away due to the cyclone, so there is a need for such materials. JEN and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Myanmar, are planning to bring materials from regions unaffected by the Cyclone and distribute those materials to the target villages.

July 3, 2008 in Myanmar |

The 3rd Village Revitalization Volunteering Event

080701_1 The 3rd Village Development Volunteering Event was held from June 20th to 22nd, and 12 volunteers participated. The main activity of the event was clearing weeds. Weeding along the municipal and agricultural roads is quite labor intensive, and thus especially in a village such as Iketani and Iriyama which suffers from a shortage of labor desparately needs support from volunteers.

This year again, a number of staff from Morgan Stanley have participated in this event. They had come to Niigata directly from their office just after they had finished their work on Friday. From the following Saturday morning, they had the pleasure of clearing the weeds under the scorching sun.

Today, various people visit Iketani and Iriyama from all over the country. We are encouraged by the consideration of huge Multi National firms like Morgan Stanley towards such a small village. We hope that more and more firms will take similar interest.080701_2

We would like to continue developing a network which links Iketani and its outside world. We look forward to participation and support from various people. We hope that together we will continue to create a flourishing community in the future.

July 3, 2008 in Niigata |

Community: Happiness or Pain

080701 Occasionally, a participant of the home gardening project visits other participants’. He/she is then trained through helping them. However, in one village, a participant had refused to visit a particular garden.

Vakarai DS Division has been affected by a prolonged conflict situation. Therefore, distrust is occasionally found even amongst the neighbours of the same village. Thus, a JEN social worker and a professional psychologist have organised an opportunity for members of the village to talk to each other. As a consequence, distrust amongst the community has decreased to the level in which the participants can mutually visit each others’ residence.

Now, the locals are enjoying working together. Through sharing happiness or pain, the community’s mutual trust and sense of unity is strengthened.   

The JEN’s home garden project does not only improve the nutritional condition of the local people through cultivating vegetables or support the household’s financial conditions, but does also contributes to ameliorate the strained social conditions of the people and strengthen the mutual trust amongst the local communities.

July 3, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

Farming at the Juba Office

080701_low One of my minor joys amongst the busy daily duties is to watch the lettuce, okra and local spices which we planted 3 weeks ago grow. All of our staff had participated from very early in the morning weeding and sowing the seeds of local spices and the seeds of lettuce and okra which I had brought from Japan.

A large portion of vegetables in Sudan are imported from neighbouring countries, such as Uganda. A variety of vegetables (mainly tomato, cabbage, onion and potato) available in Sudan is not as wide as in Japan. In addition, not only is the variety limited, but also the price of the vegetables is similar to that of Japan.

We hope our vegetables that are now about 10cm in height will grow well, so that we can all enjoy beautiful dishes together after the harvest, such as okra curry and lettuce sandwiches.

This is a picture of our staff ploughing the backyard of our office in order to transplant our vegetables.

July 3, 2008 in South Sudan |