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Village Development in Niigata: Volunteers Wanted!!

Recruiting Village Revitalization Volunteers for Niigata-Chuetsu Earthquake 2008

~The Challenges facing a Village to Overcome Depopulation after the Earthquake~ 

In 2004 an earthquake of great magnitude devastated the region of Niigata. Despite this tragedy, Iketani and Iriyama of Tokamachi have stood up and faced the damage and started the reconstruction process. Iketani and Iriyama are small settlements consisting of a total of 6 families. Of these 6 families, 4 families consist solely of elderly people, and therefore the village faces the threat of depopulation. Despite this, the elderly are engaging in village revitalization efforts with huge energy. Since 2005, JEN (An international NGO) has aided the busy farming season and recruited volunteers to assist towards their recovery. This year JEN is aiming to establish a system for the continuous return of volunteers to Niigata. Project volunteers are an essential component of the village recovery. We urge you to apply!

Activity Information
The revival of the region affected, adjustment and relief of the villagers environment, conservation, farming with the villagers, helping with the preparation of the harvest festival, collaboration with the locals.
The activities listed may vary with the season

2008 Schedule:
(1st ) 2nd May (Fri)-5th May(Mon) 4 days - Completed
(2nd ) 9th May (Fri)-11th May (Sun) 3 days - Completed
(3rd ) 20th June(Fri)-22nd June(Sun) 3 Days - Fully Booked
(4th ) 12th Sept (Fri)-15th Sept (Mon) 4 Days
(5th ) 3rd Oct (Fri)-5th Oct (Sun) 3 Days - Fully Booked
(6th ) 24th Oct (Fri)-26th Oct (Sun) 3 Days
(7th ) 31st Oct (Fri)-2nd Nov (Sun) 3 Days

The Iketani Branch School (A school that was closed 23 years ago has now been refurbished for your use as a lodging facility)

Available Space
15 people per session


3 days (2 nights) - \6,000
4 days (3 nights) - \8,000

Trips inclusive of lodging and food expenses

Transportation costs are not included, therefore you must make your own way to the location. The location is accessible by car or train.

Assembly Time/Place:

The entrance to the Tokamachi Station of the ‘Hoku Hoku Line’, Tokamachi, Niigata
Friday 07:30pm

■Departure time/place:

The entrance to the Tokamachi Station of the ‘Hoku Hoku Line’, Tokamachi, Niigata
01:00pm on the final day
※The time of departure may vary with the activity


The trip will stop taking volunteers when the number of participants is full for any of the trips.
For more information, please contact us.

How to join in:

First download our application form and fill in the necessary information. Please send the application form by Fax or email. If you do not have the above then contact us by telephone and then we will send you the application form by mail. After your application has been received, JEN will verify the information and contact you again. Once we have verified your application, we can finalise the necessary arrangements. The link of the application form is below:

What to bring:

Gloves( non-slip )、long boots/rubber boots、long sleeved shirt, hat, mask, rain coat etc.
-Please contact us if you would like to borrow a pair of boots

Contact Information

JEN- Tokyo Headquarters’ executive office,
Contact - Endo
※This program has been made possible due to the collaboration of the Tokamachi Regional Development Planning Committee

September 30, 2008 in NiigataVolunteer Infomarion |


Move Forward With Their Skills

20080925_panis_fishnet_making2 JEN has supported the Fishery Cooperative Societies(FCS) in Vakarai DS Division following the returnee support project completed this April. JEN has provided materials twice to make fish-net for the FCSs. In the previous project, fish-net making was organized as a skill development training course. This time, the participants were seen to be active in transferring their skills to other FCS members.

In addition, JEN once conducted a workshop for the FCS leaders to learn the structure of microfinance programs, and this time some FCSs were found to be making use of the knowledge they acquired.

Their enthusiastic attitude to learn and share skills among them brought big joy for us, as we had an impression that the FCS members were so used to being assisted from outside and they took it  for granted.

September 25, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

Distribution of Roofs for Schools

Dscn1895s JEN distributes CGI sheets to the schools where their buildings had their roofs blown away by the Cyclone Nargis. “We are happy to see our children under roofs that create an enabling environment to study,” say the teachers. Children also show their happiness and gratitude to JEN by singing songs while JEN visited one of the schools.

Some schools that JEN supports with CGI sheets fortunately have kept the framework of their buildings. But many others even got their buildings’ foundations blown away in the Cyclone. They set up temporary small buildings and organize classes both in the morning and in the afternoon separately for children of different grades. Due to these measures, children learn only half of what they have to learn in a day. Dscn1926s

JEN’s CGI sheets will help them re-establish their school building in the near future.

September 25, 2008 in Myanmar |

The 4th Session of Village Revitalization Volunteering

080925_1 This time, the revitalization volunteering event was held from September 12th to 15th for 4 days and 3 nights, instead of for 3 days and 2 night, with taking advantage of the “Keirou-no hi (Respect for Senior Citizens)” day, which is a national holiday in Japan.  This was the last session to mow the rice for this year.  8 participants held mowers and hand scythes and mowed along the fields with the villagers.

We have been carried out mowing since this June.  This time the climate was much more comfortable than the boiling sun in the summer. Although we worked in the rain, we completed it without any incidences.

What we had been afraid of the most was injury.  Especially blades of machines are spinning so that we have to be careful dealing with them.  Mr. Sakane, the head of the village, said in the banquet that “I was relieved because there was no injured people despite the fact that I had worried about it the most.080925_2
By the way, harvesting rice will begin soon.  The next activity in Iketani and Iriyama is the last session of “Let’s go to TAMBO!!”.  The rice planted in May has been growing steadily and is waiting for harvesting. 

Click here the latest news of the rice planted in the program of “Let’s go to TAMBO!!”.

September 25, 2008 in Niigata |


Kashmir’s MOTTAINAI (Don’t Waste) Spirit

JEN’s motto is to support those who are in the hardest to reach, or live in the most inaccessible areas.
Haveli in Bagh District, located in a remote area which can only be reached after passing many mountains of Kashmir (AJK) and unpaved rough roads, is an example of a region that needs support to recover from the earthquake.

Most of the cars you can see in Haveli are trucks such as jeeps and 4WD.
Among the types of passenger cars, the 1974 model of the Toyota Collora is especially prominent, as seen in the photo.

This car is exhibited in an automobile museum in Japan as a classic car; however, people in Kashmir still use it with the same body but they change the engine into diesel which is economically better for gas-consumption.
It still runs smoothly and strongly on the roads of Kashmir. Isn’t it wonderful of Kashmir people to keep using the same cars for 30 years?

What about the JEN Pakistan team?
JEN moves through the mountain roads in a 4 WD instead of Toyota Collora, continuing to bring support from Japan.

September 18, 2008 in Pakistan |

To know Ramadan Part #1: “Fasting”

080918_low The season of Ramadan of this year has begun.  Ramadan is the 9th month in the year of the Hijra, the Islamic calendar. During the season, Muslims deeply study the Koran and perform “The Five Pillars of the Muslim” or five duties deemed on every Muslim; Shahadah (profession of faith), Salat (ritual prayer), Zakat (almsgiving), Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

Japanese are unfamiliar with Ramadan, which is one of the Islamic duties. Ramadan does not mean that Muslim eat nothing for a month. It means that Muslims refrain from eating from sunrise to sunset. It is prohibited to have not only food, but also water and smoking.

Every day, when we hear azan, reciting the Koran from the mosques, every Muslim begins to have Iftar (dinner after fasting).

In the afternoon, roads that are usually already crowded with many cars, become packed with event more cars to go home. In the evening, drivers get crazy because they are anxious to get home by sunset. Some of them violate the speed limit and drive violently, nearly getting crushed.

Then when the Muslims finish Iftar, they feel full of much appreciation for Allah. After Iftar, they meet their relatives and friends till late at night. We can see electric spectaculars like Christmas and nicely dressed people in the city.

September 18, 2008 in Iraq |

Distribution of Shelter Kits Completed

Dscn2076s_low This picture shows the stamp that signifies the receipt for the shelter kits. Distribution of shelter kits for 3,000 households has been successfully completed as planned in the on-going project.

Villagers have made good progress in reconstructing their houses with JEN’s shelter kits. However, in many villages, it is still not rare to see several families living together in a temporary house built with insufficient materials, although it has been nearly five months since the disaster of Cyclone Nargis. The roads to the villages are not in good conditions and material procurement is still a difficult task. But JEN is supporting them in whatever capacity we can to recover their livelihoods and stable lifestyles. Sany0231s_low

We see the smiles and happiness on the faces of the people when they rebuild their houses with the shelter kits. On the other hand, through the communication with the people, we can’t help but think the people have received a big psychological shock by the Cyclone. JEN is now concerned about their mental trauma and will start a needs assessment for psycho-social care support in addition to the on-going project.

September 18, 2008 in Myanmar |

Completion Ceremony for School Facilities Construction

080918_low   It has now been eleven months  since the remote operation management from Pakistan was introduced.

  Last month the completion ceremony for school facilities construction was conducted in two schools. There were numerous people gathered for the ceremony, such as members of the school management board, school teachers, pupils, and local leaders.

  A speech kicked off the ceremony by a member of Parliament who is originally from where the school was built, followed by the student representatives and then the Embassy of Japan that financially supported the school construction. Female students made the ceremony special  by delivering wonderful songs with eye-catching pastel colors on their burkas.

  What continues to surprise us  on occasions like this ceremony, is how powerfully the Afghans deliver their speeches. . They passionately emphasised the importance of education, and gracefully  described how much they appreciate the contributions from Japan.

September 18, 2008 in Afghanistan |


Psychosocial Care through Reading Picture Books

JEN’s activities encourage children to draw, play games, read books and listen to stories being read to them.
The photo shows a box with 30 picture books.
This area is away from town, and children do not have many chances to see picture books as schools and libraries nearby have ordinary books and newspapers, but not picture books.

Children enjoy reading books and picture books on their own, yet they often ask JEN’s staff to read books for them, and recite poems in the evening time.
Local people drop in on their way back from their work, enjoy a peaceful moment watching the happy children.

JEN bought these picture books and boxes from a Sri Lankan NGO, “Surangani Voluntary Services.
” SVS’s representative is a Japanese woman who supports pre-school education. JEN will keep making use of these local resources to create programs that make local people happy.

September 11, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

Let’s support a village by purchasing safe and trustworthy rice

Iketani and Iriyama are sites for one of the largest production areas of “Uonuma Koshihikari ” which is high-grade rice in Japan. The 2008 Summer Edition of JEN’s newsletter included a flier about this rice.

This year, the rice produced at Iketani and Iriyama was named “Yama-Shimizu-Mai”- which means “rice grown with clear water from mountains. The flier included a photo of the scenery of a beautiful rice terrace in Iketani where the rice is grown. With this newly decided brand name, it is expected that “products of Iketani and Iriyama” can be emphasized. The rice that is being grown by farmers and volunteers will be harvested in autumn and be sold. Of course, the harvesting is going to be carried out as an volunteer activity.

As those of you who joined weeding activity may know, the “Iketani & Iriyama” rice is grown with as little pesticides as possible. Therefore the rice is “safe and trustworthy”. Nowadays, people seek food which is “safe” and “domestic”. Yama-Shimizu-Mai is valuable rice which meet both of these criteria.

This April, JEN sold this rice at JEN’s booth in “Earth Day Tokyo 2008” held in  Tokyo.Some customers who purchased this rice said “I bought this rice because I can support the village”. There are means of supporting the village not only by joining the volunteer activities but also by purchasing the rice.

Click here to purchase “Yama-Shimizu-Mai”

September 11, 2008 in Niigata |

Handover Ceremony

080911p1020303 The water and sanitation improvement project carried out since February 2008 for 3 elementary schools in the Lainya County have now been completed, thanks to the Japanese Government and many other supporters. We had a ceremony to handover the borehole and toilets on August 16th. 

During this handover ceremony, 15members of the management committee for the facility maintenance of boreholes and toilets in the 3 elementary schools, as well as the education officer of Lainya County and the official for restoration and development of Southern Sudan, all participated. 5 participants including members of the committee, the education official, the water official, the Central Equatoria State's department of education, and JEN signed official handover documents. 

The education officials of Payam, a smaller administrative unit than a county, as well as administrative officials of Boma, much smaller unit than Payam, were also present at the site. 080911p1020312 

From now on, the operation and maintenance of facilities at each school will be assumed by members of the committee. In other cases, where repairs are unable to be addressed by the committee, the local administrative official is responsible. . 

We ended the ceremony wishing the facilities to be operated and maintained properly for a long time to come. 

September 11, 2008 in South Sudan |

Aiming for a More Comfortable Home

Dsc08725_low Utilizing shelter kits distributed by JEN, local villagers are working together to build houses. Some villagers seem to be customizing the houses once they are built. For example, a watershoot for collecting rainwater was added to one of the houses. Another house has been expanded by adding a shed right next to it.

Customizing the shelter houses according to the individuals’ lifestyles from their own will, is a positive indication of self-sustainable reconstruction of life.

JEN is to distribute 3000 shelter-kits by the end of September.

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Now offering a special campaign! Until November 30th, 2008
For further information, click here
JEN delivers your goodwill to the people, without failure

September 11, 2008 in Myanmar |


In Order To Provide A Better Educational Environment

20080904mofatakarpurasmcmeeting_3_l Thanks for the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, organizations and individual supporters, JEN is constructing 6 schools in UC Kalamula, Haveli county, Bagh district. These schools are reinforced to resist earthquakes with light steel structure. One school can accommodate 40 students.

Students are forced to study outside even though it's raining, snowing or severely windy. After the completion of the construction, all 240 students can get education under a safer and more comfortable environment.

All the schools are located in the middle of mountains far from the main roads. As a result of this, JEN has to work hard to separate all the parts of the school building into pieces, and bring them to the construction sites piece by piece, then putting them back together.

JEN looks forward to welcoming children to start going to these schools as soon as possible, and continues to provide assistance for a better educational environment in the earthquake-affected area.

September 4, 2008 in Pakistan |

The Completion oftoilets in the Orphanage

080904_low   With the support of the Chikuma International Exchange Association and others, JEN constructed four toilets in an orphanage in the Charikar region of the Province of Parwan.

  130 children, who have lost their parents and relatives in the  long war, live at the orphanage and  make the most of the opportunities offered to them in these difficult times. However, the level of hygiene  at the orphanage  is unacceptable, There was only one single toilet so the children had to go outdoors.

  Government support is insufficient for the children living at the orphanage so it is important to let them know that there are people who care about them  who are working to improve their  sanitary situation.080904_low_2

  Shar Muhmmed (14) living at the orphanage exclaimed , “Before JEN put in the toilets, we only had one  that was very dirty. Now we have new toilets, and it is very clean.”

  JEN hopes to continue  the improvement of education and sanitization at orphanages with your support.

September 4, 2008 in Afghanistan |