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11/27/2008

Arabic Asset Management

081125_low   People living in Arab countries reportedly do not use interest-earning bank accounts. How do they manage their asset without fixed deposits?

  Serving as an alternative, there is something called the Islamic Banking in the region, which is a system that serves as a go-between for personal investments. The bank and individual investor agree to invest in some project and receive an “advantage” which is not identified as “interest”. The advantage usually ranges from 5% to 10%. However, they sometimes may not receive any advantages. Even though they will not receive any advantages for some years, they can maintain a relationship of mutual trust. This is the style of Arabic business.

  Another way of asset management is the possession of gold. Thanks to the increase in the price of gold, acknowledgement of “gold as fortune” is now widely prevalent. Some say  “possession of gold is the best way of asset management because it makes men happy by getting lots of money, and at the same time makes women happy by receiving gold”.

  In Amman, there exists a long street of gold shops (suku) which get very crowded during the weekends. The designs of gold items seem to be different from Japanese tastes, which are mostly big ornaments or heavy chains.

November 27, 2008 in Iraq |

Six Months After The Cyclone: The Need For Psychosocial Care.

27nov_dscn2683s_low   Presently, JEN is surveying the villages to decide which village to distribute the additional 1500 emergency shelter kits.

  The other day, when JEN asked the villagers, “What do you need the most?”, the response was “We want our children back”. This villager lost two of their children in the cyclone.

  In order to provide the support of what they really need, JEN needs to survey and ask various questions to the villagers. However, when JEN encounters this kind of response, there is no way to react other than to be stunned and listen. 

  Six months after the cyclone, even as our activities in Myanmar are getting organized, these kinds of words strike us strongly. We even feel helpless that we are unable to do anything for them to help with this matter.27nov_dscn2686s_low  

  The representatives of the villagers have also lost a lot of family members. The representatives do not show their sadness and are dedicated to assisting the other villagers. Working with such villagers gives JEN the day by day courage to “not stop, just do our best in what we can”.

November 27, 2008 in Myanmar |

11/20/2008

Local Residents and Supporters Meet

20081115sdkiribarachabomission_low Ms. Kazuyo Katsuma, a member of “Chabo!” writers group together with the JEN’s Bord members, visited the project sites. For the people in the field, it was their first time to see so many Japanese people at once. Children greeted them with songs of welcome, and enthusiastic messages were delivered from the teachers to Ms. Katsuma and her party.

Roads to the sites are in bad condition and its location is where the assistance is difficult to reach. The local people were able to feel the warm support from Japan more directly by this visit of these Japanese supporters.

Ms. Katsuma’s message of “Let’s plan what to do together ”, hopefully became a  symbol of the first step supporting the peoples’ self-reliance.

November 20, 2008 in South Sudan |

The 6th Session of Village Revitalization Volunteering

081120_img_0015_low_2 This is a report of the Village Revitalization Volunteering 3-da y and 2-night session that took place from October 24th to 26th.

Tokamachi-City, in which Iketani and Iriyama villages are located, is very famous because of it’s heavy snow that is even described in social studies textbooks for elementary schools. This time, the volunteering started the preparation for being coping with the heavy snow, a process called “Fuyu-gakoi”.

The volunteers uninstalled guardrails and corner mirrors to let the snow blowers pass through, and volunteers planked around the Shrine to protect it from snow.  In addition, the volunteers picked up firewood and cut it into a useful size. Although this is tough heavy lifting, the volunteers enjoyed doing this.081120_img_0040_low

On the other hand, there was a “Fuyu-gakoi” for apptite, too.  New rice harvested this year was stored in cooler storages.  The rice stored here will be delivered to “Yama-Shimizu” Rice admirers(!) all over the country.  (To purchase this rice, please click here -- in Japanese only.)  We, the volunteers, carried heavy rice packets to the best of our ability, then all we have to do now is eat it!  It is time to relax.  Apart from these tasks, we sorted black-soy-beans and threshed buckwheat, and so on.

We had experienced the village’s lifestyle through these tasks, and with a laid-back atmosphere, enjoyable times past by quickly.

November 20, 2008 in Niigata |

Rain and Planting - Climate change affects here, too

20081105_muliwatuvan_beneficiary_lo  Rain has finally come last week to moisten the entire district of Batticaloa. It should have come at the end of September, and people have been waiting in this dry climate to start planting.

Villagers, who had waited for the planting time by preparing their land, immediately started planting after the rain. They looked glad and relieved that the long awaited rain drops finally reached them.

All they can do is to pray for more rain in the same way every year. However, in recent years, people   can’t rely on regular weather seasons, and this further threatens returnees’ unstable lives. As villagers totally depend  on the natural condition for their livelihood, and assistant partners like JEN face challenges in directing when to prepare and send resources to assist them.20081111_placing_seed_mullivattav_2
 
Picture 1: Villagers preparing their lands using tools distributed by JEN (BEFORE RAIN)

Picture 2: Villagers planting seeds distributed by JEN (AFTER RAIN)

November 20, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

About Shelter Distribution

20nov08_165s_low_2     Today, we will explain how shelter kits are distributed to the villagers.

  First, JEN conducts a needs assessment on the local needs of shelter-kits and determines which villages to distribute the shelter-kits to.

  After JEN has determined the villages to which our shelter-kits will be distributed, JEN asks those villages to set-up a committee to receive the shelter-kits.

  Subsequently, JEN asks these committees to compile a list of house owners who will receive the shelter-kits.20nov08_dsc02469s_low

  Members of the committee check the number of shelter-kits upon each arrival.

  After the shelter-kits have reached the villages, the committee summons all members of the village who will receive the shelter-kits. The recipients are asked by a committee member to seal their thumb marks on the document to confirm that the shelter-kits have actually been delivered to them.

20nov08_dsc09141_low_2   Villagers exhibit various emotions when giving their thumb marks. Some villagers express their utmost gratitude to donors, while others show empty faces because of the loss of their family members. Some enjoy chatting with others and some become nervous because of their lack of thumb marking experiences. Among them, villagers who showed empty faces comprised a majority of the recipients and JEN are always concerned about them.

  We are aiming to effectively conduct our support to deliver aid to people who need it most; JEN always take into consideration the necessary supports for those villages with empty faces when leaving the village.20nov08_img_2782s_low

November 20, 2008 in Myanmar |

11/13/2008

Emergency Assistance for the Balochistan earthquake started.

20081105_field_assessment_uc_kach_z   JEN confirmed the necessity of emergency assistance and started to conduct the aid on November 11th.
 
JEN has sent its local staff members to the devastated areas to support the victims of the Magnitude 6.4 earthquake that hit Balochistan region on October 29th.

JEN operated investigations and needs assessments for understanding the current situation and needs for the damages in order to operate aid activities in the region.

At the same time, JEN's staff also participated in conferences together with related organizations and conducted information gathering.

The victims who live in destroyed houses in the devastated areas have been forced to spend hard times outside in the bitter cold, even below freezing at night.

There will be areas where cannot be accessible due to the weather in winter and JEN confirmed that the assistance are needed as soon as possible for the victims who wait for emergency aid.    

This emergency assistance with the support by Japan Platform (JPF) and the individual donors will conduct distribution of tents and living wares over winter for 500 house units in the devastated region of Balochistan. JEN also plans to distribute tools with which the victims can fix their houses by themselves and sanitary kits.

We look forward to your support. Click here for donations made by credit cards.

We appreciate your support.

DONATE NOW

November 13, 2008 in Pakistan |

After the Visit from the Monitoring Team

081113_low On November 3rd, the staff of JPF (Japan Platform) visited JEN’s office in Amman to monitor JEN’s projects in Iraq. The JEN project in Iraq has been executed through remote management since 2003.

JEN has concluded the last projects funded by JPF in Baghdad, by achieving complete or partial renovation for 84 elementary or junior high schools, hygiene education, distribution of study desks, foundation of school management committees and facilitation for the committee.

JEN is currently carrying out the renovation of 18 schools. The projects have benefited 75,000 students, 3,500 teachers and more than 5,000 labors.

In 2004, JEN renovated 6 sewage facilities in Baghdad, which benefited more than 100,000 people and 400 laborer’s lives.

JEN would like to take this opportunity to thank JPF for its long-term assistance and everyone for their support in JEN’s Iraq projects.

This will be the last JPF funded project. However, JEN continues renovation of water supply facilities in schools which is a highly prioritized need in the educational field.

We hope that you will continue to support JEN!

November 13, 2008 in Iraq |

A Moment away from the Busy Schedule Part 3: Three Shunidy Sisters and “Thanaka”

13_nov__low When I visit the field, I always stay with the three sisters of the Shunidy family. With them, there is always something to do with "Thanaka", Myanmar’s traditional natural cosmetic product. Thanaka is made from the bark of citrus trees and by grating it with a special stone just for the purpose of making this product. Women and kids are the main users and they enjoy using it as a sunscreen by applying it onto their skin.

The history of thanaka is long; it is even carved in a mural decoration which belongs to the Bagan kingdom (AD 1044 -) - the first kingdom in Myanmar. It is said that good old wives had put the thanaka on their face and longed for their husbands’ homecoming.

The three sisters taught me how to use it, after they had taken a morning shower. In addition, they advised me to put sandalwood aroma (a grated bark) on my hands and legs, since thanaka itself does not have much of a scent.

The three sisters repeat the same procedure after their evening showers. We have a lively conversation while having a light meal together. I'd be probably well adopted in the village with thanaka on me; people treat me like as if I were one of their family members.

When we foreigners work in the local field, JEN respects the customs and cultures of the country in various situations, and puts the best effort to blend into the local cultures to construct a better relationship with the local people.

November 13, 2008 in Myanmar |

11/06/2008

Tools and Seeds for Life

20081106_seeds_distribution_in_vaha JEN provided 10 kinds of farming tools such as hoes and axes, and seeds of maize, peanuts and long-beans for 360 farmers in six villages in Kiran DS Divisions. The majority of local people in this area made their living by cultivating land that used to be jungles  and organizing their small-scale farms in a traditional manner, and they lost their farming tools and seeds while they were evacuating during the civil war, which made it hard for them to get back to their farming activities.

They expressed their gratitude when they saw examples of JEN’s assistance ‘JEN gave us seeds and farming tools at the right time that supported us a lot.’

We haven’t had enough rain for cultivation because of the delay of rainy season this year. But returnees have already started to cultivate their lands with hope for peace in their new lives. JEN sincerely wants to have rain, which brings not only water for their crops, but fortune for their lives.

November 6, 2008 in Sri Lanka |

11/04/2008

BREAKING NEWS: JEN has started first investigations on the earthquake.

081104_img_4159_low Staff members of JEN Pakistan have arrived in the earthquake affected area and have started first investigations.

The results will be reported sometime next week.

(Photo:Staff members in gathering information atJEN's Islamabad office)

November 4, 2008 in Pakistan |