« November 2009 | Main | January 2010 »


Linking Lives, Planting Lives, Vol.2

091224 In this entry, JEN is going to report the details of the Earth Walk & Tree Planting Tour in Iketani, Niigata, as we did last time. On the second day of the tour, JEN held the Tree-Planting Festival in which participants planted 100 trees in “The Forest of Life.”

An earth-walker, Mr. Nakatani planted trees in “The Forest of Life” in the past, but growing trees was difficult because of poor water-drainage. The members of the Tokamachi Development Committee prepared for this time, reflecting on the previous event. 

Before planting seedlings, Mr. Nakatani carefully explained what the participants are about to do, and the locals’ wisdom and cooperation made the process a pleasing one for the participants. JEN will continue to plant seedlings with care, imagining that in 30 years time, the trees will grow tall and large, as well as the future of Iketani, and us.

091224_2 After planting the seedlings, the participants wrote their “messages of life” on “the board.” The head of the Tokamachi Development Committee, Mr. Yamamoto attached the board on the sign of “the Forest of Life.”

091224_2010 Lastly, all the practices of the tour were over by taking a commemorative photo of the participants and all the locals of Iketani. “Thank you, I will be back” “Thank you, please come back” exchanging words each other.

December 24, 2009 in Niigata |


To co-exist

091217_dscn0458 To the local people, JEN’s staffs who are staying in their town are foreigners. It is therefore extremely important for us to establish a trusting relationship with them as soon as we can to carry out our project. The level of local participation and cooperation would also change according to the trust between us.

In order to get closer with the locals, JEN staffs try to deepen our understanding of each other, by creating more opportunities to speak to them outside the workshop and by visiting their families one-on-one.

091217_dscn0453s The other day, a road was constructed for JEN’s cyclone shelter-type elementary school in the Tha Yaw Chaung village. JEN staffs who were at the site also took part in paving the road with the local people. Despite the labor-intensive work, even our female staff didn’t fail to keep up.

By having JEN staffs participate, our feelings are able to converge, even while doing such trivial, daily community activities. The local people treated us to a snack during break when we tried to treat them.

091217_dscn0178s It was a day when we could feel people were allowing us into their circle little by little, despite their difficult situation. We’d like to continue the workshop with them in a spirit that embraces “coexistence” rather than “teaching.”

December 17, 2009 in Myanmar |

New school building for the children has completed!

The construction of Hemayatul High School of Parwan Province Charikar District has finished.

The brand new one-story school building is surrounded by a thick concrete wall, and equipped with eight classrooms and two faculty offices, libraries, and science laboratories. Ten bathrooms are set up outside and there is a water-supply well in the area as well.

The opening ceremony celebrating the completion of construction was held on the 13th where 800 people joined. Though the building was just completed, the leader of school management committee was made a sincere request to the Governor of Parwan Province and the Director of the Education Bureau, to add four new classrooms on the second floor, in the opening speech, to accommodate for the increasing number of students. It is truly encouraging to see the number of enrolling students rise.

During the long war, furious battles took place in Parwan Province that generated a large number of IDPs (internal displaced persons) as well as refugees. Presently, this province has the one of the least to encounter unsafe incidence. We hope that this stability continues and the opportunity to education will spread for both boys and girls, JEN will continue support for Afghanistan. 

Approximately 1,400 students will start their new school term from next March at Hemayatol High School. Therefore, teachers are very busy to move and to prepare for the new school term during the winter breaks.

December 17, 2009 in Afghanistan |


My Reflective Experience since October 2009

091210_20090817_jpf2_morobo_okollow The past two months of working with JEN has been an extremely enriching experience for me as well as a reflective account of my recent work experience in South Sudan.  I could not help but marvel at the huge difference of culture and environment among the Sudanese people.  Having lived and worked previously in Wau/Raga Western Bahr El Ghazal, it was the use of Arabic that stunned(?) me.

Communities in Central Equatoria rarely speak Arabic, instead preferring to use local language ( mainly Bari)  or English. Surprising for me equally was the fact that everyone seemed to understand and  speak English, which makes communication a lot easier.

This is also reflected in the quality of JEN’s activities on ground. During one of my field visits, I came across young girls fetching water at a water point in a school (installed by JEN but serving about 700 households in 4 nearby villages) cleaning their Jerry cans with sand.  They did it so vigorously as though in competition I was prompted to ask them why.  They told me that this was meant to ensure that water was not contaminated and that it reached home in the same safe condition as it was when collected at the borehole.  They said they learnt all this from JEN’s hygiene education programmes.

0912010_20090817_jpf2_morobo_okollo Field work and especially movement from one place to another can be complex, tiring, and stressful, but by realizing the impact our projects are having on ground, it becomes motivating, challenging, and renews my energies to want to do more.

Working with  Japanese people for the first time has equally made me adopt the culture of hard work hence I am slowly but surely becoming a Japanese!

December 10, 2009 in South Sudan |


101209_img_3294_resize_2   In Padang there are many nice buildings but they have strange roofs. Every new person who comes to Padang must think the reason of this kind of roofs. There must be some stories behind it. One of the JEN local staff explained like this;

  Those buildings name is Minangkabau. This word is consisted of two words “minang” it means winner and “kerbau” means buffalo.

  Long time ago there was a festival of buffalo race every year. That race was mainly between Padang and neighboring Java people. Java was famous for its healthy and big buffalos and Padang didn’t have healthy buffalos as compare as Java’s buffalos. Java people always won the race. Some of the clever Padang people thought about the strategy to win the races. They started to use hungry baby buffalos for the race against Java buffalos. Then, Padang people attached some small knives and blades with their horns. The hungry baby buffalos were running very fast behind the buffalos for the milk, so the attached knifes and blades were making the body of buffalo scratched and wounded, when they were trying to drink milk from the buffalos. The speed of Java buffalos was automatically getting slower and at last because of too much bleeding they were felling down. After that the race always won by Padang. Finally Java people stopped to participate in the races and this festival was over. 101209_img_3306_resize_2

These buildings designs are the memorial of those races and the symbol shows the horn of buffalo. Almost 60% government offices roofs are Minangkabau.

December 10, 2009 in Indonesia |

he Village Revitalization Volunteering, Supplemental Episode?

0912010__low ~Linking lives, planting lives~ Vol. 1

On December 5th Saturday and 6th Sunday, 18 people visited Iketani to participate in the EARTH TRIP vol.1, “The Earth Walk in Iketani, Niigata & Tree Planting Tour”, organized and held by TOKYO SOURCE.

On the first day of the tour, an earth-walker(*), Koichi Nakatani and JEN secretary general, Keiko Kiyama had a casual talk over Iketani, called “The Earth Talk from Iketani” at Nakaya, a renovated old house. The encounter of Nakatani and Kiyama goes back to 2006. 

After the talk, JEN had an exchange with the locals. Welcoming a cook from the neighboring village, Matsunoyama, participants enjoyed traditional food and sake of Echigo (the old name for Niigata Prefecture) and had a heartwarming time with the villagers.

JEN will introduce the details of the festival of tree-planting in the next news report.

(*)a traveler on foot who plants trees all over the world


December 10, 2009 in Niigata |

Expression of the hygiene program

091210_20091105_ptt_sallitivu_hyg_2   The hygiene education workshop was held in Sallitivu on 5th November, 2009. I would like to share some concentration which was looked in the event.

  The program was combining with a discussion and sharing the hygiene knowledge each other. The PHI is presented as a resource person for the program.

  I could observed that there were more female participants. And they attended in the workshop with their children. I asked a beneficiary named Sabapathy Pushpakumar, "why did you participate here with your children?" She said "I don't have anybody to look after my child when I come here yet, I don’t want to miss this meeting."

  After that, I got to know the reason why she tried to attend the program. Then, I discussed with her about that participation. She told us "the hygiene promotion is very important to us. We are facing the difficulties especially during the rainy session. If we get the hygiene knowledge prorperly, we can always be in a better environment.

  The participants were very helpful in the group and very active to discuss with the resource person as well.

L.Jayenthini - Social Mobilizer, JEN - Valaichchenai Office.

December 10, 2009 in Sri Lanka |


About the Disaster Prevention Workshop

In this entry, I’d like to talk about the disaster prevention workshop, which has been made possible with the help of late Ms. Kiyohara Miyako and assistance from the Japanese government.

JEN runs a four-day workshop on disaster prevention with the local people.

On the first day, people learn about natural disasters, their entailed damages, and evacuation protocols. Since most people have not heard of the word “disaster prevention” or “disasters mitigation,” JEN teaches basic knowledge on these subjects.

The next day, we look back on our cyclone experience. We let the people recollect their memories from the outbreak of cyclone to their life as refugees. This way, people are able to evaluate how to prepare themselves for natural disasters, problems that they had, what has helped them, and think about measures they can take for the future.

On the third day, we make a hazard map (a map that outlines the dangerous and safe areas) and a calendar that notes the town’s events. For the hazard map, we divide into several groups, walk around the village, investigate dangerous and safe regions, note them on a map, and give presentations on our findings.

On the final day, we look back on the town’s history and discuss what we could prepare for the next time. We play a messaging game, through which we learn how difficult it is to convey accurate information to others.

Upon completion of the four-day workshop, people are trained on evacuation protocols. This will convert knowledge to experience. Participants would retain their knowledge better when they actually get to try it out. Furthermore, we go over the plan to hold regular evacuation training with the people.

Finally, we make a handbook that compiles what people have learned, realized, or determined after the workshop. By distributing a copy for each house, we can give local families a chance to think about disaster prevention and avoid forgetting about their cyclone experience. We don’t make and distribute handbooks in an imposing manner, but try to make them for the people and by the people.

This is the disaster prevention workshop that JEN conducts for the local people.

December 3, 2009 in Myanmar |

Eid Mubarak

In Pakistan, from the 27th Friday, a day earlier than in Afghanistan, the Feast of the Sacrifice began. All JEN Pakistani staff returned to their home villages for four days.

Feast of the Sacrifice, the event is based on the myth of the Qur'an. When Ibrahim was just about to sacrifice his child, as told in a revelation from God, God honored the spirit of faith and sent angel Gabriel and asked to sacrifice the life of a sheep instead.

In various parks and markets, livestock markets appear only around this time of the year. An Islam friend tells me, goats and cows are dissected for the poor, and that all parts of the body are utilized.

The day before the Feast of Sacrifice, I saw goats and cows under the sun, but on the 29th the area became a sea of blood with slaughtered animals here and there. Usually the slaughter is handled by experts in one chop, which give less pain for the animals.

I was very puzzled since I am not accustomed to these kinds of events, once again, I did feel the preciousness of "life" and appreciate for being given a “life”.

December 3, 2009 in Afghanistan |



090129_img_0775_low Village Development in Niigata: Volunteers Needed for Snow Busters!!
~Many challenges facing the villagers in Iketani, Niigata~

Activity Information:
It has been four years since the earthquake hit the village. 4 families out of 6 families in the Iketani village are 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 has aided the busy farming season and recruited volunteers to assist towards their recovery. During the winter season, we are seeking volunteers to visit the area and help clear the snow. We need your support!

There will be three sessions for Snow Busters.
(1st) January 22nd '10 – 45th '10 (3 days and 2 nights) 
(2nd) February 5th '10 – 7th '10 (3 days and 2 nights)
(3rd) February 19th '10 – 21st'10 (3 days and 2 nights)

Please keep in mind that…
¨ The activities may vary with the changes in the weather and other conditions.
¨ Please bear the cost of the transportation on your own.
¨ You are welcome to join by car. (helping to drive other participants is welcomed)

Home stay at houses in the village of Iketani, Niigata

Number of Participants needed:
10 volunteers

3 days and 2 nights = \6,000 ( 4 meals )
*Dinner will not be provided for the night of first day

What to bring:
¨ Waterproof gloves
¨ Long boots
¨ Outfit for cold weather (waterproof)
¨ Towels
¨ Change of clothes
¨ Copy of insurance card
* Please inform us if you need to borrow long boots.

Deadline of Application: Until spaces are filled

How to Apply:
1. Download the application from here JEN website, and send the filled form to us via FAX or by mail or through an e-mail
2. We will then inform you where to make your payment
3. After we confirm your payment, your application is determined

Assembly Time:19:30 of the starting date at Tokamachi Station, Hokuhoku Line, West Gate
Timetable of Hokuhoku Line

Departure Time: 12:00 of the final day at Tokamachi Station, Hokuhoku Line, West Exist

* If you are travelling by car, please park in the parking area of the West or East exit and meet us at the Hokuhoku Line’s gate.

JEN Headquarters Tokyo Office, Obata

* This project is cooperated with Tokamachi-shi regional development executive committee.

Further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at


December 1, 2009 in Niigata |