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04/22/2010

Grateful for Each Person JEN Has Met.

As JEN’s program in 2010 are going to get started, we will share some thoughts with you.

In October 2004, the Chusetsu (Niigata Prefecture) Earthquake occurred. JEN dispatched some staff as a coordinator to Kawaguchi-cho, Tokamachi City, coordinate many volunteers from all over Japan. Then, JEN’s assistance started.

In the spring of 2005, JEN initiated the Agricultural Volunteer Activities. We got determined revitalize Iketani and Iriyama village where an unsustainable village comprised of only six households was and hideous scars by the earthquake remained. Slightly fewer than one hundred volunteers have been there and helped the villagers do farm chores and did the cleaning after the earthquake.

In the spring of 2006, the villagers planted rice two years after the earthquake. Since then, JEN has supported the system of direct selling of rice. Since around that time, we have found that some of the volunteers come to Iketani repeatedly.

In the spring of 2007, JEN hoped to support the villagers, who want to increase output of rice. The volunteers and the staff at JEN strived to do so. In July, the Niigata Chuetsu Oki earthquake occurred. The locals in Iketani and Iriyama took the JEN’s staff to Kashiwazaki city and made efforts in order for us to take measures for the damages there. Additionally, they thoroughly supported the volunteers for Ohanashi-tai in which the volunteers, staying at the branch school in Iketani, researched what the elderly victims suffer from and took care of them.

In the spring of 2008, the villagers taught the volunteers how to plant rice for the first time. As crop-planting experts, they supervised the new volunteers, and in some cases, they did so strictly. This year, JEN made a plan which revitalized the village.

In the spring of 2009, in addition to the participants in the Village Revitalization and
the Rice-planting Volunteering, many volunteers repeatedly visited Iketani and
helped the villagers plant rice one after another (!). It was for the first time in decades
that the locals did “hazakake,” the way of drying rice ear in the sun. The place where rice was dried in the sun was higher than a roof. Also, the women in Iketani started cooking classes in local dishes, and everybody enjoyed a spectacular bon dance which was held for the first time in thirty years.  

In the spring of 2010, a dramatic event already happened. Falling love with Iketani through “LET’S GO TO TAMBO!!,” the Mr and Mrs Tada and their son moved to Iketani as members of the Village Revitalizing Cooperative Squad. And…

Since the Tokamachi Regional Development Committee has voluntarily and proactively involved, JEN has been able to continue assistance in Niigata. What kind of surprises will happen in Iketani and Iriyama where more than seven hundred people have been? It is you that make change!! 090528_2_low  

Hope to see you all in Niigata!

April 22, 2010 in Niigata |