« December 2009 | Main | February 2010 »


People Living in Handmade Camps

Photo_3 Many of the affected people are now living in outdoors in places like soccer fields and open spaces, far from their homes, in fear of their houses destroying or of another earthquake.
In Grand Goave, JEN staffs visit such camps everyday as part of the needs assessment research.
Obviously these people do not have any proper material to build the temporary shelter with, so they use pieces of wood, blocks, and cloth.
The finished produce is so small, both in height and area, family members can barely lay down.
Photo_4 They don’t even have mattresses to cover the naked ground inside the shelter.
Given such situation, JEN has decided to first of all come up with a list of shelter-building tools. These tools will be assembled as a ‘kit’ and be distributed to families in need.
The list includes corrugated iron sheets, saw, hammer and nails.

January 30, 2010 in Haiti |


Once Crossing the Border…

Photo_2 The international airport in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, ever since the earthquake, is only available for the US military and the UN’s use only.
That is why we have taken the road, early in the morning of the 28th, to reach Haiti.
In Dominican Republic, the main roads were all paved, and houses lining the roads were painted pink and emerald green, all colorful. It was as if I was watching a movie from the Caribbean.
However, once crossing the border into Haiti, none of the roads around the border are paved.
Moreover, there was a terrible amount of coal flying in the air from a coalmine nearby.
My window was open and I had a sudden fit of coughing.
As we near the capital, nearly all the buildings in this country are what look like mere barracks.
Haiti used to be the poorest country in the Caribbean, but the scenery I saw clearly was its evidence. The aftermath of the earthquake is even worse, due to this fact.
I strongly felt the need for distribution of emergency relief goods and disaster prevention workshops.

January 29, 2010 in Haiti |


National Border in Chaos

Photo As a supporting staff in JEN’s assessment team, I, Ms Fumiko Tanaka, have arrived in Haiti on January 28th.
I entered Haiti by road from the neighboring Dominican Republic.
It took around 4 hours to reach the border as planned, but the speed slowed down and it took 2 hours to travel 1 km just before crossing the border, and finally entered Haiti.
The border was filled with trucks carrying emergency goods into Haiti coming from all corners of the world, and a mass of Haitian people flowing out to evacuate their homeland.
On top of this chaos, we found people trying to do business by selling various items or doing currency exchange services, and people trying to organize, in vain, buses and trucks that come driving into the mess.
Due to the earthquake many roads near the border are damaged and sunk in water, two lane roads are now single lane with landslides, and these hamper the transportation of emergency assistance goods.
I just hope that assistance from the world will reach the affected people in Haiti, as soon as possible.

January 28, 2010 in Haiti |

Thai Pongal

Thai Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by Tamils. Thai means “January” and Pongal means “boiling over”.
1st of January is the first day of the year for Western people, but for Tamil people, Thai Pongal day is their first day of the year. On this day, traditionally, they cook ‘milk rice’ with the harvest.
Traditionally, people harvest their first rice and cook milk rice, the pongal, with it to thank the Sun God.

The above photo shows a boy carrying firewood to sell and buy clothes to celebrate Pongal. When we asked him about Thai Pongal, he simply replied ’you buy rice and milk from a shop and make milk rice, and thank God saying that it is your harvest. In the past years we celebrated Thai Pongal by collecting harvest from our own paddy field. But, after resettlement, we still could not harvest our paddy. We need money to buy rice so we do this kind of temporary jobs and celebrate Thai Pongal.
They cannot harvest their own rice due to many reasons including climate change. We realize that climate change not only affects livelihood of these people, but also their religious customs.

January 28, 2010 in Sri Lanka |

The First Session of the Snow Busters 2010, “Super Snow Busters”

100128_1 JEN held the first session of Snow Busters from January 22nd to 24th in three meters of snow.

It was a “Super” Snow Busters since we had a diverse group of participants – from nine to sixty one year olds, and from beginners to experienced participants. In total, twelve people (ten male and two female participants) took part in the session. They sat in a one-hour lecture that taught basic knowledge and techniques of snow shoveling, and were trained in security measures. After that, they tried snow shoveling wearing unfamiliar shoes called kanjiki*. 100128

Participants utilized snow dumps**, invented through much research done by the Tokamachi locals, shoveled snow off the roofs, and moved the snow to the sides. Their harmonious teamwork was amazing!

At night, they had a party with the villagers. Singing songs with dance and clap, enjoying the sound of conch, guitar, and drum, it was like a “small concert,” and everyone was enchanted by the atmosphere.

Participants expressed their desires to improve their snow shoveling techniques in order to shovel even more and assist the villagers. Snow shoveling is indispensable to the lives of these Iketani villagers, although they are aging year by year.

JEN is will continue to put effort into hosting Snow Busters and fostering the strength of Iketani.

*kanjiki: shoes designed to walk on snow
**the snow dump: a large shovel for snow

January 28, 2010 in Niigata |


[Haiti Earthquake Emergency Assistance Flash Report]

250110_ We have received some photos from Haiti.

Presently, JEN is conducting research in a town called Grand Goave about 50 km away from the Haitian capital.
About 60% of the buildings are completely damaged here.
We are seeing spontaneous camps in numerous places such as open squares and soccer fields.
The photo shows a temporary house made with desks and chairs from a destroyed school and tree leaves.
People are desperately building temporary shelter with wood blocks and bits of galvanized iron sheets.

250110__2 Of course there are no toilet facilities.
As JEN, we have come up with a list of items to be used for removing rubbles and building small huts by their own hands. We have selected a supplier to procure the necessary items and materials from the neighboring country Dominican Republic.

Written by Ito (In charge of Haiti, Overseas Program Department, JEN Tokyo HQ)

Donation for JEN Haiti Earthquake Emergency Assistance.
By credit card via homepage

By postal transfer (available within Japan)
00170-2-538657. Account name: JEN

January 25, 2010 in Haiti |


[Haiti Earthquake Emergency Assistance Flash Report] 3 Staffs begin assessment research in Haiti

This is Hirano, Deputy Director of Overseas Program Department.

I would like to deliver our first report from Haiti.

On January 20 (local date January 19), JEN’s 3 staffs (Cyril Cappai, Olivier de la Motte Saint Pierre, Masako Yonekawa) have entered the Haitian capital Port au Prince, from Dominican Republic after 8 hours drive.

Currently there is no accommodation available in Port au Prince, so the 3 staff are staying at an acquaintance’s place.

There are some aftershocks, but it is relatively safe in the buildings that remained after the earthquake.

There is a risk of mosquito-born diseases, so they are using mosquito nets at night.

The only means of communication is the one satellite cell phone they brought from Japan.

With 14 hours of time difference, when we contact them, it is always night time in Haiti.

What is more, the phone conversation always gets cut off every two minutes. The lack of electricity makes it difficult to even take notes during conversations.

The next day after arrival, they have visited the affected area. They also attend regularly attend UN coordination meetings with other NGOs.

They began conducting some research in a remote town about 10 km from the capital.

According to the Head of Mission in Haiti and Director of Overseas Program Department, Cyril Cappai, even for an emergency NGO expert like him, the sight in Haiti was as if “a bomb had been dropped”.

Every building is crushed to the ground, and many corpses lay untouched.

Through this assessment research, JEN will determine the contents of emergency assistance as well as the area in which we will conduct such aid.

Emergency goods will be imported from the neighboring state Dominican Republic.

We will continue reporting the progress of the Haitian situation through this flash report.

Donation for JEN Haiti Earthquake Emergency Assistance.
By credit card via homepage

By postal transfer (available within Japan)
00170-2-538657. Account name: JEN

January 21, 2010 in Haiti |

When are the holidays for next year?

The calendar in Afghanistan is based on the Persian calendar of Iran, and the beginning of the New Year starts around March 21st.

There was a happening during Japanese New Year’s when we were checking the holiday schedule for 2010 at JEN Afghanistan.
Even when we made inquiries to the local government and the embassy, no one knew the actual dates of the holidays. When we searched the Internet, it presented different dates based on different sources, and appeared that the accurate dates would not be specified until next March.

To make matters worse, the religious holidays are based on the Islamic calendar, so the dates would change within a couple days according to that month.

Even though the calendar differs from the Christian calendar, I wonder if it is only the Japanese international staffs who are worried about not being able to make plans in advance because of the unconfirmed holiday dates. We do care about the schedule of the local people in Afghanistan…

January 21, 2010 in Afghanistan |

Thinking together with the local people

At JEN’s disaster prevention workshop, we do not imposingly teach knowledge on disaster prevention or evacuation training.

Of course, JEN’s facilitators provide an opportunity for people to to get thinking, but from then on, it is up to the people to adjust it to their own lifestyle and customs. When we have the local people actively participate in the workshops, they sometimes come up with various ideas and traditional wisdom.

To this end, the workshop has to be both serious and enjoyable, with some unifying elements. We try to create a team, by playing games that incorporate everyone, having friendly conversations, and doing a lot of group work. It’s not really about teaching something for them to study, but having them come up with their original disaster prevention manual by themselves.

We believe that people who have been affected by the cyclone would feel more optimistic when they feel more unified as a village, however incrementally, through our disaster prevention workshop. While it’s been a year and a half since the cyclone strike, we hope for your continued support on our Myanmar project.

January 21, 2010 in Myanmar |


[Flash Report] Emergency Assistance in Haiti

To conduct needs assessment research and distribution of emergency daily necessities, JEN has dispatched emergency assistance specialist Masako Yonekawa, Head of Mission Cyril Cappai, and Program Officer Olivier de la Motte Saint Pierre. Olivier has worked with JEN during its Lebanese Emergency Assistance.

In order to conduct our activities with utmost safety, especially with the given worsening of security situation characterized by violent lootings, JEN sent 3 experienced international staffs, all francophone.

On the 17th, the three are to arrive in Dominican Republic, then after some preparation such as hiring a car, they are to enter the Haitian land by road.

Given the lack of accommodation and water for the staffs in Haiti, staffs have prepared tents, first aid kits, and water purifying tablets in France.

There are indications of the shutting down of tale-communication, so communication between Japan and Haiti will be done with transmission via satellite.

January 18, 2010 in Haiti |


“New Year’s Party with Everyone!”

100114_20092 Happy New Year! In Niigata, it’s been snowing since the end of last year, and we had about two meters of snow in Iketani.

On January 10th, JEN had a New Year’s party, calling it “The Gathering on the New Year’s Day in Iketani” with villagers and volunteers. We spent a typical New Year’s Day pounding rice cakes, shoveling snow, and playing Japan’s traditional cards known as “karuta” and Hyakunin-Isshu. Also, before and after the party, volunteers helped local people remove the snow (or shovel snow off the roofs).

100114_2010 This time, three groups accompanying children took part, and the children enjoyed making snowmen and snow huts alongside their parents while adults were pounding rice cakes and shoveling snow. It was such a great atmosphere. Furthermore, a volunteer gave a “yoga” lesson, which wasn’t part of the original plan, and the elderly women in the village were very pleased to feel refreshed.

Living in Iketani, we feel that the rich natural environment and the gathering of the old and the young generate a lot of new things. Perhaps it is through these things that “richness” is created in this place. JEN will do its best again this year aiming to inherit the village onto the next generation and create a community where the elderly feel secure.

100114_2010_2 JEN hopes for your continued support this year.

January 14, 2010 in Niigata |

Outbreak of Earthquake in Haiti on 2010/01/13

Outbreak of Earthquake in Haiti on 2010/01/13
Emergency Assistance will start for the afflicted people of Haiti

JEN, non profit organization (headquarters at Shinjuku, Tokyo) will start its emergency assistance for the affected people, following the earthquake that occurred on January 13th in Haiti.

The devastating earthquake took place on January 12th 16:53 local time (13th 18:53 Japan time), directly under the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, maximum number of the affected is expected to reach 3 million. The Haitian President has also announced that number of deceased could go up to 30000 to 50000 (as of January 14th). The extent of the deadly damage is expected to increase as we obtain further information of the affected area.

JEN has decided to implement the emergency assistance at this time, based on our experience with emergency relief after similar natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones. Internationally, our ongoing projects are in Indonesia (Sumatra earthquake in October 2009), Myanmar (Cyclone ‘Nargisse’ in May 2008), and our past projects were in Pakistan (Earthquake in South-west region in October 2008 and Kashimir Earthquake in October 2005), Sri Lanka (tsunami caused by Sumatra earthquake in December 2004), Iran’s earthquake in Eastern Region, India’s earthquake in Western Region, and Mongolia’s snow damage. Domestically, we have implemented emergency assistance in Niigata following its Chuetsu Earthquake in October 2004. As of today, in Niigata, self-reliance assistance is ongoing for the elderly affected by the earthquake.

3 staffs are dispatched to the site on January 15th: Cyril Cappai (Head of Mission, JEN, French), Masako Yonekawa (Francophone emergency assistance specialist), and Olivier de la Motte Saint Pierre (Program Officer), all due to arrive on January 16th. Taking into consideration the aggravating security situation, we will first collect information of the damage and necessary information for our emergency relief. Simultaneously, we will distribute necessary emergency assistance goods as much as possible.

JEN has begun its charity drive as part of our emergency relief assistance for the affected people in Haiti. In order to reach our assistance to the people with rapidity, accuracy and flexibility, we need your cooperation.
In addition, the latest information will be announced on our website as well as our flash report mail magazine.

Donation for JEN Haiti Earthquake Emergency Assistance.
By credit card via homepage


By postal transfer (available within Japan)
00170-2-538657. Account name: JEN

January 14, 2010 in Haiti |

A Happy New Year!

JEN is going to keep working on our project sincerely and carefully, assisted by warm support by all supporters.

How was the last year for you?

People in Southern Sudan suffered from many problems. Conflict in opinions between the South and the North Government caused further antagonism concerning the result of the national census. Even in the South, many armed conflicts occurred between tribes and fought over domestic animals. In addition, unsteady governmental situation of the neighboring country made the lives of returnees even worse.

The first general election will be held in April this year, which is very important for the referendum to be held in 2011. JEN will try its best to prevent further confusions and to assist many people to lead peaceful lives.

January 14, 2010 in South Sudan |


The snow-ball effect

100107_dscn0904s Thanks to the late Ms. Miyako Kiyohara’s will and cooperation from the Japanese government, we’re conducting a disaster prevention workshop in Phapon, Bogale.

It’s been a year and a half since the cyclone Nargis hit this country. There is a possibility that an equally large-scale cyclone would strike here again and produce similar disasters. We realize that the people who inhabit our project sites are also abundantly aware of this and feel apprehensive about such risk.

Because of this, it seems, the attendance rate at JEN’s disaster prevention workshop continues to make an extremely high mark of over 80%. Our staff is also alerted by this and works harder to respond to people’s interests in and attitudes toward disaster prevention.

Besides JEN’s project sites, however, there aren’t that many villages that are properly equipped and prepared for the next cyclone strike. People who have gone through Nargis understandably seem to feel anxious about such tragedy, which anyone could experience for the second time. However, they are probably at a loss for directions on where to start.

100107_dscn1028s The disaster prevention committee that JEN established at our project sites works hard to have the local people share their know-how’s on disaster prevention with their neighboring villages. Through JEN’s project, we aim to have people in other regions to realize that tragedies can be prevented, and to disseminate the know-how’s on disaster prevention as swiftly as possible.

January 7, 2010 in Myanmar |

Cutting one’s hair means….

100107_dsc07753 With the support from Japan Platform and all supporters, JEN has been assisting the hygiene education to school children in Southern Sudan.  Here is a story about a child who has received the hygiene education.

“I did not understand why my parents were eager to cut my hair” told Robani Dada, a 14-year-old boy. “I misunderstood that my parents try to do something with bad intentions, but now I understand the reason.  It is not hygienic at all to leave my hair uncut and long, as it might breed worms and dirty.”

100107_dsc07790 Thanks to the hygienic education offered by JEN, children have learned the meaning of cleanliness, such as cleaning a house, cutting one’s nail, washing one’s clothes….

January 7, 2010 in South Sudan |

“Greeting of the year 2010 from the team”

A Happy New Year to all of you!

It has been a decade since the Millennium! JEN’s support to Afghanistan has begun since year 2001, so this is our ninth year. Given aggravating security in Afghanistan, international staffs transferred to Islamabad, Pakistan in November 2007, and continue to implement the projects remotely from Islamabad.

Therefore, the Afghanistan team realized  the importance and function of teamwork. This is why the team was able to complete all the projects of the year 2009 without major issues with tremendous commitment each other..

JEN will welcome additional team mates this year. We will unite even stronger and will do our best to fulfill the support that is needed.

We thank all of you for this year.

January 7, 2010 in Afghanistan |