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First Time in Four and a Half Years

091112_img_4865 I have visited the Iketani Branch School, in Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture, since July, 2005. Since the Chuetsu Earthquake in 2004, JEN has walked together with Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture in order to revitalize Tokamachi, by taking measures for depopulation, and sustaining the village. From right after the earthquake to three months later, I was in charge of Niigata, and this visit was the first time in four and a half years. The Iketani Branch School has greatly changed.

As the fact that Iketani has been welcoming volunteers for five, there are more dishes, slippers, food, stationeries, and sleeping bags, along with many other things, to accommodate for more people. For volunteers coming in winter, there are also many electric blankets. 

091112_img_4936 There are many volunteers participating, and most of them arranged their schedules to visit Iketani not via JEN but directly with the Tokamachi Regional Development Planning Committee. I visited several project sites of JEN in places like Afghanistan and Sudan from 2005 to 2009, but never once did I feel that project site of JEN is as self-sustainable as Iketani, Niigata.

The entire five years have passed since the Chuetsu Earthquake, and the projects in Niigata will continue to change. The continuous improvement in the project in Iketani is due to volunteers and advocates for Tokamachi Regional Development Planning Committee. Then, what supports such people? I really would like to find an answer during working as an officer in Niigata.

(Program Officer of Niigata: Wakano)

November 12, 2009 in Niigata |