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04/28/2010

Unity

It will soon be two years since the cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar. In the villages that are suffering from its aftermath, the local people are helping each other to restore their pre-Nargis condition. In the village where we are working, with the town leader as the center of our work, we have restored vivacity in people who carry diseases or have lost their families.

Img_0060_4 I would like to tell a story of what happened when JEN’s staff went surveying the village. A staff’s sandal all of a sudden broke while he was walking on a road, so he had to walk in a wobbly sandal. The local people who saw that, then, would offer their own sandals, one after another. Despite our refusals, they wouldn’t take them back.

Img_0079_2  These people are equipped with such a cooperating spirit. Nobody indulges in his or her own self-interest.  It must be this kindness that had allowed the town to revive. Although the town has not fully restored its pre-disaster state, we believe that they will continue to exude their marvelous sense of unity that had been fortified by the cyclone experience.

April 28, 2010 in Myanmar |

Assistance for Self-reliance Part 1

Last week, two JEN staff, Fifi and Stanley, went to Leogane for three days to participate in a hygiene training organized by UNICEF. Leogane is a town located between Port-au-Prince, the capital city, and Grand Goave.

The weekend just after that training was “Thanksgiving Day”.  Our team could manage to have some days off after several weeks of work non-stop.  Thanksgiving Day is an extremely important festival in Haiti. After the relaxing weekend, we had a training in the office.  Since our two staff had taken part in the UNICEF training, we wanted to share the information and the knowledge with other staff while their knowledge is still fresh.

100428_lecturing Fify and Stanley lectured on hygiene management and it was supposed to last two hours. The manager and the driver also attended the training at their own initiative. We asked the housekeepers in our office to attend this training. They also needed the detailed knowledge of hygiene management.

100428_training_session However, it is quite difficult to manage time. Although the training was due to last for two hours, it took us six hours in the end.  However, our team could deepen and expand our knowledge of hygiene management.

April 28, 2010 in Haiti |

Comment from a Father at the Reconstructed School in Baghdad

Thanks to the cooperation of all of our supporters and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has been five years since we started our school reconstruction and hygiene promotion projects in three provinces in Iraq (Baghdad, Anbar, and Babil). Our hygiene promotion project aims to improve the local hygiene environment and enhance the local people’s sanitary habits.

Recently, I*, who have never actually been to the project site, received a pleasant message from a staff in Baghdad.

It’s a message from the father of a student who goes to the recently reconstructed school, and I would like to share it with all of you.

“All families in this region are talking about the school that has been reconstructed lately. The toilets and electricity had been out of order and left unrepaired for over six years. Now, my son loves going to the newly renovated school. Thanks to JEN, he has become more motivated to learn and his marks have gotten better. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all of you who helped reconstructing our school from the bottom of my heart!”

*Due to security situations in Iraq, all Japanese staffs are residing in the neighboring country Amman and remote-monitoring the project.

April 28, 2010 in Iraq |

04/22/2010

Vasantha Kalam - New Year’s in Sri Lanka

The New Year starts on April 14th in Sri Lanka. April is the happiest month for the Sinahala and Hindu community. In Tamil, this period is called Vasantha Kalam (the season when things starts), and it is also the season when there is a festival. As the picture shows, many children and young people participate in the marathon event held at various places.

100422_2010_new_year_festivalrace_c Marathon outside Batticaloa in the early morning of April 15th

There are customs unique to Sri Lanka for celebrating the New Year. They celebrate by giving money wishing for prosperity, receiving blessing from the elderly, and applying herbal oil on their heads.

100422_jen_batti_staff_celebfrates_ On April 15th, the project leader at JEN’s Batticaloa office gave blessings to the staff members. As you may see in the picture, he is holding the money note in his left hand.

Through these customs, people refresh their mind and look forward to a fruitful year.

Prepared by Miss. Sharulatha Field Assistant. JEN Batticaloa Team

April 22, 2010 in Sri Lanka |

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 |

Election in Sudan

From April 11th to 15th, an election was held in Sudan.100429_election_poster_small

It was a historic first in the last two decades, during which election could not have been held due to war. As a result, many people voted for the first time in their lives at this occasion. As part of the election campaign, candidates’ posters were posted on walls, while election bags, T-shirts, and skirts were distributed free of charge. Children received free T-shirts for not being able to vote.

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On the day of election, the community where JEN is constructing a primary school was used as a polling station, and the chief of the community proctored the election process. Since the school was still under construction, voting was held under a tree. For the next election, however, we hope that the school could be used as their voting site.

It is amazing that schools can become a community center.

April 22, 2010 in South Sudan |

04/16/2010

Emergency Assistance: System of Information Sharing

It has been nearly 3 months in Haiti since the devastating earthquake, unprecedented number of organizations, large and small, has been doing their projects under respective principles. When so many organizations are working in the limited space individually without any kind of coordination, many problems arise: doubling of goods, concentration of organizations in one specific area and thus smaller reach to other places etc. What is then needed to solve such problems, when assistance is in dire need? It is sharing of information among organizations. How is this done in emergency situation?

In emergency times, it is OCHA – Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – that takes the main lead. This UN-related organ coordinates meetings called ‘cluster’ meetings that are categorized into different important sectors, such as shelter, medical care, and education. Cluster meetings are held 3 times per week during the first 3 months after the natural disaster, and 2 times per week onwards. The meetings consist of sharing WHO does WHAT in WHICH camps, WHEN. More complicated discussion and information sharing also take place.

This system of information sharing is always evolving with technology. For example in Haiti, a new system was put in place where all information of each organization active in Haiti are handled in OCHA’s website. Some clusters use interactive software to post up information on online bulletin boards. Organizations that cannot attend meetings and under limited time, such systems are very convenient to implement projects smoothly in chaotic emergency times. 

JEN belongs in the shelter cluster, which utilizes Google Earth to publicize detailed information on “WHO distributed HOW MANY of WHAT, WHERE?” By sharing such quantitative information, we can continue our projects safely and efficiently.

OCHA’s website “oneresponse” has much information on such things, not only about clusters, UN, and NGOs. If you’re interested, go have a look at the website!

April 16, 2010 in Haiti |

04/15/2010

Hope for Afghanistan’s future

100415_2   My Name is Najibullah Khalilzai I joined with JEN since 7th March 2010 as site engineer based in Charikar District.

 During the recent three decades of war in Afghanistan, our people suffered a lot of problems in this country. For example, around 3 million of our people died or were injured during the war, various governmental and nongovernmental properties have been damaged,  hospitals and schools are all destroyed, and most of our people had to seek refuge in other countries. Domestically, people’s rights were not respected. Our trained national police and army forces were affected and were not properly functioning.

 By establishments of the new central government, voted and chosen by our people, I sincerely hope that some positive changes will come to the live of our people. And that the rights of the people are recognized by the new government. I believe that people have equal rights regardless of which provinces of Afghanistan they live in.

 As for the reconstruction of the country, the international community has been assisting all of Afghanistan in different sections such as education development, health, road construction, and economic growth.  However for such a country as Afghanistan, completely destroyed from the conflict, assistance seems never enough.

 In security section our destroyed police and army forces are receiving training day by day and become strong.  The conflict is ongoing in our country, and some of our provinces is insecure and out of the control of the government.

 The international community has spent billions of dollars in our country, but our people still remains in poverty. I hope our people will stop suffering from poverty and the security becomes good and we could live without feeling any danger.

April 15, 2010 in Afghanistan |

Thingyan, Myanmar’s New Year

This week is Thingyan, Myanmar’s New Year’s, the most important celebration of the year.  Although Sri Lanka starts their New Year’s around the same time as Myanmar, Myanmar spends longer holidays that span almost two weeks.

The highlight of the New Year’s is the four-day long water-spraying festival. People start preparing for the water festival from end of March. As we near the festival season, we see more and more advertisements that reflect the spirit of the festival and more stages for water-spraying in various places of Yangon.
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During these four days, since almost all the shops are closed, people of Myanmar and foreigners together go out shopping before the water festival. Because they’re on breaks from their work, many foreigners also travel outside Myanmar.

From 1-2 weeks before the water festival, everyone gradually started to get excited, and there were more happy faces in the streets than usual.
 
 Just like the New Year’s for the people in Myanmar, there would always be enjoyable times anywhere in the world. And I believe anyone is capable of having a great time during then.
 
We wish for people’s happiness to last. Happy New Year and Happy Thingyan!

April 15, 2010 in Myanmar |

What is Kafiyyeh?

Imagine an Arabian man.
What is he wearing?
Don’t you imagine him wearing something around his head?

100415_img_1410 100415_img_1411 100415_img_1409_3  

This piece of cloth is called kafiyyeh. They wrap it around their heads or necks to protect themselves against sunburn and the cold. As you can see in these pictures, there are many ways in which you can wear it.

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Can you see something black holding the red kafiyyeh?

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I used to think they were using two layers of rubber bands, but I’d been mistaken. It was actually an inelastic cord.

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The color of the cloth generally indicates where the person is from. The color combination of red and white is Jordan, black and white Palestine, and black with fine white stripes is Iraq (especially the Shiites).

Here in Amman, we also see a lot of people using kafiyyeh to decorate the inside of their cars.

April 15, 2010 in Iraq |

04/09/2010

Time Consuming

20100409 7:45 – I leave the JEN compound to go to the Shelter Cluster Meeting that will be held in Log Base, a UN camp in Port au Prince at 8:30. On Sunday this trip would take 10 minutes, but during the week it’s more difficult to estimate.

8:40 – I finally reach the meeting, running a little bit late. I am not the last one but there were some UN vehicles that prevented us to drive for few long minutes on the way, in front of the US Embassy.

9:55 – Meeting and side-meetings in log base are ending. I’m now going to Leogane to assist the Water and Sanitation and Hygiene meeting, to be held at noon.

20100409_2 11:35 – I reach the newly built and soon-to-be moody UN camps in Leogane. The trip took 1 hour and a half, which is not so bad. My colleagues, who are traveling everyday to Grand Goave, our activity site, few kilometers even farther than Leogane, must spend between 2 hours and 2 hours and a half for each travel. This means 4 to 5 hours per day in cars, just going to work.

13:45 – Meeting and side-meeting ended, I call the team and go to meet them informally for few minutes on the way to Grand Goave. We have some information to exchange and I got a new map from OCHA, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that can be useful for us.

14:15 – on my way back to Port au Prince.

17:00 – I finally reach our compound, with only a 15 minutes stop on the way back to try getting some material at the UN camps, which is located on the way. I spent 9:15 out of the office, to participate in 2 meetings, of little more than one hour each.

20100409_3 18:15 – the team comes back from the field. They left at 6:45 this morning. Now our local colleagues have to go home from the JEN compound. Between 1 and 2 hours of tap-tap’s trip (Tap Tap is a small local bus that make your butt feeling “tap-tap” – cf. picture below). They already spent approximately 5 hours in the cars, just to go and return from the evaluation they conducted today.

I spend half of the week losing time in cars, and so did the field team.  .Such a situation is common in areas with high population density and especially after damaging earthquakes. But the Haitian case is, one more time, perhaps one of the worst I have ever encountered. However, efforts are necessary to realize our assistance. Because in participating these coordination meetings, we can understand the local needs, coordinate our activities with other active NGOs in the area, exchange valuable information with NGOs and UN related agencies, all in order to support the people more efficiently. It needs to be emphasized that these efforts are as important as the actual distribution of goods in our activity sites.

During some crowded traffic jams, I sometimes thought of buying a motorcycle. That could make us gain some time at Port au Prince’s level, but only if we arrive safely. One friend of mine, who was driving a motorcycle here, was comparing that to a video game: you have to avoid a guy, then a woman, then a car, then a hole in the road and some children, and then you enter in a smoky area with parked cars after a curve… nice when you are comfortably sitting on your sofa. Less nice when the only points you could score are stitches In JEN, we are not to use motorcycles for reasons of safety.

What is necessary in such conditions is to secure the safety of our staffs, and do the maximum we can at all time. Efforts shall be continued for further assistance!

April 9, 2010 in Haiti |

04/08/2010

[Northern Vavuniya] A Word from a Villager, After the Distribution of Shelters

“My name is Rasaroshini. I and six other members of my family live in Matiyamabu Village.
 
 

We evacuated this area around the middle of 2008, but two months ago we returned and settled in this village again.

We had farming tools and a large house when we left, but we lost everything in the conflict, including those tools we once used. The conflict also restricts my husband's ability to travel.
   
We came back here empty-handed, having lost everything. The government gave us tents, but it was difficult and restricting to live in those. That’s when we received lumber and metal siding from JEN, allowing us to reinforce and expand our tents. It rained today, but we made it.
 
 
And  best of all, we didn't  need to take our children with asthma to the doctor.”

Through the support of JPF and individual supporters like all of you, JEN distributes boards and metal siding to assist people reinforce their homes. This has other benefits as well, as it did for Rasaroshini. Our support to improve the lives of returnees will continue.

100406_vav_north_nainamadu_jpf_shel 100406_vavuniya_northparanthan_jpf_
JEN staff members handing over shelters to villagers at the project site.

April 8, 2010 in Sri Lanka |

Plaza Andalas and Ramayana reopened and giving a spectacular discounts’

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This was the headline in all the newspapers on May 1st.

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It was just 7 months ago on 30th September when a huge earthquake destroyed houses, schools, hospitals, hotels, markets and shopping complexes like Plaza Andalas. It was the biggest mall in the West Sumatra Province. The residents were not only suffering because of their destroyed houses but they were also shocked to see their favorite mall completely destroyed.

After 7 months of preparation and recovery, Plaza Andalas and Ramayana re-operate again approved by the mayor of the city. In addition, some new and famous chains of shops also opened to get the customers. At the re-launching day, an artist from Jakarta and famous music band were invited to attract and entertain Padang people. Thousands of people including students, couples, and old people gathered in the opening ceremony and everyone was singing songs with joy and happiness.

It has only been mere seven months since the earthquake. The reopening of this mall will encourage the local people because they can now buy their daily needs and the children can play around at the game center.  It also will recover the economic development of Padang city, absorb job seekers, and give some good influence to the traditional market.

The reopening has marked an important step in the revitalization of the city. 

April 8, 2010 in Indonesia |

Water Hygiene Education ~Puppet Show~

JEN is constructing wells and toilet facilities in schools, and conduct hygiene education for school children to prevent water-born diseases, all in line with the aim to improve the water hygiene environment of the Sudanese repatriates in South Sudan. This time, we will take the opportunity to explain our hygiene education program.

In Japan and other so-called developed countries, we understand why washing hands after using the bathroom is important. It is now a normal custom for anyone to wash their hands. However, this does not apply to the Sudanese repatriate children, who have never received proper hygiene education. We start from zero- first we explain why we must use toilet facilities.

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When we explain hygiene, sometimes the effect is not maximized by just talking and explaining. In Kajo-keji County, JEN is carrying out Hygiene Education in primary schools, where we use different tools to pass on the Hygiene massage to young school children. Puppetry is one of the tools that JEN Sudan has being using since 2007.

What is so special about a “puppet show”?
-It is the puppets (third person) playing the role.
-And thus the children can observe the play rather objectively.

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If it were real people who did a play, it bears the risk of being too realistic. It is better to have puppets convey the message, so that the audience – young children – can take in the message easily. They reflect on their daily lives, they see themselves with the puppets.

The school children watch the puppet show with great attention. Speaking to one of the pupils in the school after the show, she said “I am going to tell mommy what I watched”. We sincerely hope that the knowledge spreads, from mouth to mouth, and in the end improve the sanitation of the whole community.

April 8, 2010 in South Sudan |

04/01/2010

New semester at Hemayatul School

Afghanistan adopts the Islamic solar calendar (the Persian calendar) as its official calendar. March 21st is Nawruz (New Year) and the year 1389 starts today. Tomorrow, the 22nd is the new semester.
 
At the end of last year, children went to school for the first time at the Hemayatul School we built in Charikar District, Parwan Province.

100401_3 JEN staff rings a bell to start class.

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Children are now able to study in brand-new classrooms.

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There is also a small library.

We will continue our project to create an environment suitable for more children’s studies.

April 1, 2010 in Afghanistan |

Chabo! Site Monitoring with Ms. Katsuma

Last week, we visited Myanmar and monitored the work there with Ms. Kazuyo Katsuma, a Chabo! Member and an economist.

To monitor the work means to assess the work fairly. More specifically, it is to encounter many different kinds of work and people, grasp the big picture of the work, and review the effects and successes of JEN’s work as a whole.

100401_img_0140 To the local staff, supporter’s monitoring is an extremely great opportunity to show their work. They can also remind themselves that there are people who support and look over their work. We really would like to continue working hard to do better work for the Myanmar people.

April 1, 2010 in Myanmar |

The implications of working in “Emergency” period

As we are working in emergency and a complicated situation in Iraq, there are no fixed activities or duties. We need to always do whatever that is necessary to achieve our goal.

I start my day by calling our staff to check if everything is ok and pray for no bad news especially, from the local authority and contractors. If the day starts without such problems, then it allows me to focus and concentrate on the rehabilitation activity, material purchasing and training program.

To develop our activities even further, I am studying now the GIS system. This is a geographical mapping system that is enhanced with many features to show on the map assistance density, population concentration and secure zones. These maps can then be shared with JEN’s partners such as distribution contractors to facilitate our projects.

So far I passed about 20% of this system. However it still a lot to and requires some familiarity with database technology. In any respect, the race of 1000 miles starts with one step forward.

April 1, 2010 in Iraq |

Poverty in Haiti

 In Haiti, there remains a very strong tradition of apprenticeship called “reste avec”. This country, known to be the poorest country in the Western hemisphere holds half of the population living under 1 dollar per day, and 78% living under 2 dollars per day. Many families unfortunately cannot afford to bring up their children, so these children, often young girls, are sent as apprentices “reste avec” to wealthy families.  In reality, these children are not sent out to work and earn money, but are rather “given up” forever to be taken care of by wealthy families, never to be reunited with the biological family again. According to UNICEF, there were about 100,000 girls between age 6 and 17 sent to apprenticeships, before the earthquake.

 These children lost their families, houses, even their biological families. In the spontaneous camps, no protective system to take care of these children are working, including communities, churches, schools and the police, rendering the children to become street children.

 JEN will continue to conduct assistance projects for all the Haitian people, including children, to regain independent lives.


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Some children we have seen in Haiti after the earthquake.

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Donation for JEN Haiti Earthquake Emergency Assistance.
By credit card via homepage (in Japanese) ->

By postal transfer (available within Japan) -> 00170-2-538657. Account name: JEN
We appreciate your cooperation.

April 1, 2010 in Haiti |