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10/30/2008

BREAKING NEWS: Huge Earthquake Hit in the western Pakistan  

The local office of JEN, in Islamabad, Pakistan has been operating to gathering and analyzing the information and evaluating the possiblities of the necessary support.

Img_4158_low_2 The huge earthquake hit in mountain areas in the western part of Pakistan in the morning of October 29th. 

There are expected to be the large number of victims in the devastated sites of the earthquake center.

JEN (both Pakista and HQ in Tokyo) has been gathering and analyzing the information in case that  local emergency assistance are desparately needed.

October 30, 2008 in Pakistan |

“Let’s go to Tambo part 3” Experience Note-#3

081023083_low    -A Bracing Experience-

When half of the harvesting was finished, suddenly a village man said to us, “ Do not drop the rice!”.

“Hm?!,”  We were frozen and then, started to look around on the ground.  What we saw was that many straws were spread before us and some rice ears had been dropped here and there.

As we, the volunteers, were finished up bundling the rice, we did not notice that we had dropped 1 or 2 ears of rice and had moved on. 

Surprisingly, about 130 grains of rice are harvested from one ear.  Village men dealt with them very carefully, and picked up every dropped ear of rice. That was the moment when we felt the villager’s affection for their rice.  After this incident, we continued reaping the rice carefully, trying not to drop even a single rice ear. 

After we finished the rice harvesting, we got into the paddy field with the village men and checked whether there we had dropped any rice.  We checked the paddy field, around the paddy field and around the path where we dried the rice, looking very carefully. It was nearly sunset by the time the local people and the volunteers finished picking up the rice without any left behind. The next task was to dry all the rice we bundled under the sunshine.

Villagers treat even a single grain of rice with extra care.  To them, the paddy field is their property, and the rice is their treasure.  We could feel the importance of the blessings of nature and the affection for every single grain of rice  in those 3days.

End.

By Cordination Volunteer: Tomoko, Yatabe

October 30, 2008 in Niigata |

10/23/2008

New Project in a New Resettlement Area

20081023mou_signing_ceremony_with_g JEN Sri Lanka just launched a new project to support returnees in the Kiran DS Division in Batticaloa District, where IDPs had returned recently. The project is financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JEN's supporters.

At the project launch, JEN organized a kick-off meeting to explain the project to the District Secretary of Batticaloa, Divisional Secretary of Kiran, and other local officers relevant to the project.

"We are grateful to the Japanese people for their support. And we are glad to have a meeting where all of us can state our own opinions. We would like JEN to keep supporting the needy people in collaboration with local relevant officers," said the District Secretary of Batticaloa.

JEN would like to support IDPs by making most use of local resources. We will listen to people in the project site, and collaborate with the officers of Batticaloa District and Kiran DS Division.

October 23, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

10/16/2008

Arabic Sweet That Brings Happiness

081002_low After the fasting month of Ramadan that I introduced twice in these blogs, a local staff brought Arabic sweets (see the photo above) to our office. These treats taste very sweet.

These are called “Ma’mool” in Jordan and “Kulaija“in Iraq. They usually eat it during “Eid”, the festival that occurs five days after Ramadan. In order for the sweets to bring happiness, it must be home-made. The local staff bought a home oven so that his wife could bake the cookies.

In Iraq, around five million people are currently away from their homes due to the war. For a maximum six years, some of the people have baked the “Kulaija” away from their homes. Year after year, they hope for peace and stability of their home-nation, and an immediate return to their homes.

JEN helps to prepare an acceptable environment returnees from evacuation site to return to, through the improvement of the education environment in Iraq.

October 16, 2008 in Iraq |

“Let’s go to Tambo!!” Part 3 Experience Note-#2

081023080_low - To be stoic and to master the art -

“Grab the rice like this!”

Said the men of the village.  We, the volunteers, asked them many things and started reaping the rice by imitating them.  I brought down a grain sickle with all my strength.   

“What?”

I could not cut the rice with one swing like the villagers and needed to use the grain sickle like a saw, cutting the rice multiple of times. 

Then I was told, "Not like that, do it like this,” the village man advised me with a gesture.

Soon, I managed to reap efficiently, and I continued cutting the rice with at a good pace.  After 1 hour, my back and legss weres completely exhausted as if they were screaming. 

On the other hand, the village men, whom are 75 years old in average, were reaping the rice easily, rapidly and efficiently without saying anything.

“The village men are extremely skillful!”, I thought.

The harvested rice was bundled in 6 roots each by straws.  First, 3 roots out of the 6 were put and slanted to the left.  And then, the rest of the 3 were put on it and slanted to right. Finally, we put straws at a cross point. We repeated the flow.   

It looks like a simple task to bundle the harvested rice, but it is an efficient skill, which has been taken over from a long time ago, such as 1) way of bundling the rice, 2) direction of putting the straw and 3) way of tying.  Their skills and actions are sophisticated and perfect, as if they consisted of the knowledge which are inherited from their forerunners. They have been improved, and finally solidified into a process

In my case, the method of tying was difficult and complicated, therefore although they told me many times how to do it, I could not tie them like they do.

To be continued: 

By Tomoko Yatabe (Cordination volunteer)

October 16, 2008 in Niigata |

A Unique Pakistani liquid

20081016_low Since October, Pakistan has been celebrating a holiday called “Eid”, which represents the end of Ramadan. Instead of talking about the JEN project in Pakistan, today I would like to introduce you to the unique liquid that is drunken during Ramadan. The bottle shown in the picture is called “Roohafzaa” (Soul Refresher), and it a juice of a mix of many concentrated fruits. The box next to it is called “Ispaghol” which is an extract of traditional herbs. People usually drink this with water when they have a stomachache.

The JEN staff made me the “Roohafzaa” juice on Iftar (the dinner after the sunset of the day during Ramadan). It is simply a mix of “Roohafzaa” with water, and has a lot of “Ispaghol” on the top, as a garnish or more likely a finish touch. I knew “Ispaghol” as a medicine for the stomach, so first, I thought it must be taken like medication; however, this was the usual way of drinking “Ispaghol”.20081016_low_2

There are many people who have a stomachache after Ramadan starts. It is possible that this original drink may be drunk and developed over a long period from the experiences of their lives.

October 16, 2008 in Pakistan |

10/09/2008

Session 3 of “Let's Go To Tambo!!” - Part 1

081009037_low_2   -Finally, it is time for harvesting the rice.-

From on September 26th to 28th 2008, 20 young people of the age 20 to 30 got together in Iketani village, where the villagers are in their 70s.  These young people are participants of “Let’s Go To Tambo!! Session 3”.  This time is the last session of the 3-part series, harvesting rice in paddy field. 

The rice we had been planted with our own hands in May. They had golden ears and have now grown in a full-grown and strong way.  We planted these in the spring, weeded at the paddy field during the summer.  The rice which we had spent careful time to grow have now blossomed, and now it is finally time to harvest.

I have never harvested rice! So I was extremely exited and headed to the Tambo with a grain sickle.  The splendid golden rice field spread before me.

“Wow!!”

There was hardly any time to be impressed, I walked into the paddy field in a hurry to catch up with the villagers, who had already started harvesting in the village.081009073_low

To be continued:  by Tomoko, Yatabe (Management Volunteer)
Click here to see other reports

Click here to learn about becoming a volunteer

October 9, 2008 in Niigata |

The Fire Festival in Myanmar

Dscn2368s_low In Myanmar, the Buddhist Fire Festival is held at the end of rainy seasons. According to the Buddhist teachings, people and the materials are prohibited from moving from one place to another during the rainy seasons. The best practice for moving is to build a new house during the rainy seasons, and to invite monks to the new house to bring blessings.

Fortunately, shelter-kits are expected to be built by the Fire Festival. Villagers say, “We have received the shelter-kits in just the right season.” Since JEN is putting their utmost effort in providing aid with respect to the local cultures, JEN was happy to discover this unexpected coincidence.Dscn2371s_low

JEN would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support to our mission in Myanmar. We hope to receive continuous support from you.

Online donation
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For further information, click here
JEN delivers your goodwill, without failure

October 9, 2008 in Myanmar |

Elsewhere, “Else-wise”

20081009_low Hello everyone.  I am Emi Yamada  and I have just transferred to Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, after working for JEN in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, I used to wrap a scarf called the “dupatta” around my head, according to Islamic customs. I thought that in Juba I would be able to dress as I pleased, but the other day, there was an incident where a young woman wearing trousers was arrested. It turns out women living in Juba should wear long skirts . I guess I must give up fashion until I am back in Japan.

Living overseas, during work, what is always  in my mind is  the importance of showing respect to that country’s culture. It is important to readily accept different things and to try to understand and adjust to the culture.

I can’t help but express my surprise at the amount of dust, which is well over my expectations as well as the brown water that runs out of the faucets. But I am trying to gradually adapt myself to this environment and to   put my energy into the projects in Sudan together with all of our staff and I would like to  take this opportunity to request your continuous warm support.

October 9, 2008 in South Sudan |

10/02/2008

A New Lifestyle

Dscn2368s_low Families who have got a place to live by means of distributed shelter-kits are starting their lives afresh. In a village which JEN visited during the monitoring purposes, JEN was happy to see villagers not only deploying a shelter-kit and living in it, but also organising and customising the interior and exterior of the houses to match their lifestyle.

JEN has found an interesting common trend amongst villagers through post-distribution monitoring. The first thing the people of Myanmar do after they have finished deploying a shelter-kit is making a Buddhist altar. Many people are devout Buddhists in Myanmar. Even though they do not have a lot of belongings, it seems to be very important for them to make a Buddhist alter. In all the houses we have visited, we have found Buddhist altars. The villagers’ living is recovering to pre-Cyclone standards in the villages in which JEN has distributed shelter-kits. 

Dscn2371s_low On the other hand, there are still local people suffering from a lack of places to live in villages where JEN has not been able to distribute shelter-kits. To improve such conditions, JEN is planning to continue the distribution of shelter-kits.

October 2, 2008 in Myanmar |

School Construction/ Furniture Distribution is now Complete

081002_low Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, other organizations and individual supporters. JEN has completed construction of 6 schools in UC Kalamura, Haveli County, Bagh Province.

These schools are built to resist against earthquakes using light steel structure. In addition, with the contribution from Feliccimo Corporation and BOOK MAGIC participants, JEN distributed school furniture such as desks, chairs and black board sets.

After the local Education Authority permitted to start the schools, there were many children that burst into new and clean classrooms. The representative from the Education Authority came to visit schools, and spoke to children about using schools cleanly. Then, senior students have guided younger ones to not do graffiti on the school wall. 081002_low_2

The project provides children with education in a comfortable environment without being affected by monsoons, rains, winds, severe winters, snow or earthquakes. JEN appreciates wholeheartedly those who have continuously supported the project.

October 2, 2008 in Pakistan |

To Know Ramadan Part #2: “Almsgiving”

081002_low I would like to talk about "almsgiving" which is one of The Five Pillars of the Muslim. Almsgiving sounds like a difficult concept but it just means 'contribution'.

There are two kinds of almsgiving. One is "zakat" and another one is "sadaqa". Nowadays, zakat is recognized as systematic (obligatory) almsgiving and sadaqa is recognized as voluntary almsgiving. 

"Zakat" is comparable to a tax imposed on Muslims, which is used for assistance to the poor. People pay it to the government like tax. Every year the government decides the rate of this tax. This year, they decided 1.5 JD (approximately 212 JPY) per person.

On the other hand, "sadaqa" is a voluntary donation. Neighbors ask each other for donations and hand it to aid poor families. This is a mutual aid system among neighbors, which is different from governmental welfare.
 
Such a mutual aid system is prevalent across the Islamic world. One of them is called "table of Allah" where Muslim give Iftar to the poor. We can see tables and chairs beside mosques, restaurants and hotels. People are taking a seat there in the evening. Anyone can take a seat and it is free. It is chance for the poor to have delicious meal because the restaurants must give them the same quality as the meals served inside.

October 2, 2008 in Iraq |