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A Short History of Charikar’s Water Situation

Charikar is one of the ten districts in the Parwan Province, which is located about 60km north of Kabul. It is also the center of the province.

Around ten thousand families are living in the highlands of Charikar and its outskirts.  An open canal was created by the Chinese in this area 45 years ago, and it passes through the center of the city. About 95% of the population uses this water, although it is not clean at all. 

In this city, there is a large reservoir filtration system that was established 50 years ago by a Japanese technician. Water drawn from the canal passes through this system pushed by the water pump. The system has about 500 square meters capacity, and the filtered water is sent to a limited number of households.

In the North side of the city, there is an area called Gulghundi, which stores clean water in springs and canals that the local people dug 40 years ago. Maintained by the government and NGOs, the water has now become able to reach the city. Currently, clean water from two water sources has now become able to reach 5% of the city households.

Written by: Inayatullah "Hashimi"

May 27, 2010 in Afghanistan |

Changes since the Toilet Reconstruction

100527_abd “Before the toilets were reconstructed, many students left the school early to go to the bathroom. This is because our toilets were absolutely unusable. Now, we not only have great toilets but also electric fans and electricity. Thanks to these improvements, students are more motivated, and fewer students are late to school. I am also aware that we are trying to maintain the toilets in their functional state.”

This is a comment that we received from Mr. Abd, who teaches Arabic to sixth graders, at the school that was reconstructed through the combined effort of all of our supporters and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is unthinkable in Japan that students go home to use the toilet. Here in Iraq, however, it is accepted as nothing unusual. To make matters worse, students do not come back to school once they return to their homes because they live quite far.

We will continue our work to enable students to properly learn in school as soon as possible.

May 27, 2010 in Iraq |


Challenges of an Admin-Finance Officer: Loading Trucks

100523_20100525_jpf_loading_512  It has been almost one month since I came to Haiti as an administrative finance officer. Today I would like to talk about a background work that normally gets little attention.

One of my duties is loading the truck that transports materials. The day before distribution, we load the truck with shelter kit materials. While it sounds as simple as receiving the ordered materials and placing them on the truck, it can be quite painstaking.

First, the truck rarely arrives on time. Even though we confirm the time of its arrival the day before, it arrives a few hours late. In worst cases, we wait as long as six hours.

When the truck arrives, the first thing we load is lumber. We provide five pieces of wood perpearson, so we count five as one unit and load the woods for the total number of targeted people. Some woods can be of very poor quality, so we have to watch out for them.

100523_20100525_jpf_loadingcounti_2 The next material we load is perhaps the most troubling: CGI sheets. Why? Because we need to count CGI sheets that are so thin, one by one, in the hot container, as many as three thousand! Some are so closely stuck together that it is extremely difficult to count them, and more importantly, one can lose concentration easily due to the heat and the routine nature of the work. CGI sheet loading can take over two hours because we count them one by one, saying the number out loud with one or two other people to make sure that we are counting them right.

100523_20100525_jpf_loadingcounti_3 We also count other materials, such as hammers and gloves, unless the container is preserved properly. This is because even though the boxes may look intact, they sometimes contain fewer materials than are written on the boxes.

100523_20100525_jpf_loadingdriver_3 Loading may sound like such a simple task but it can almost take the whole day. What makes me so happy, though, is the driver who voluntarily helps the loading process. For the truck driver and the driver for JEN’s cars, helping the loading or distribution process is not part of their contract (they are also my French and Creole teachers!). Nevertheless, they offer to help and work in sweat. The pride of supporting Haitians must also be taking root in their heart.

May 24, 2010 in Haiti |


The Relationship is Getting Closer

May is the busiest time in the year for seedling and soil preparation for rice planting , gathering wild vegetables and planting vegetables. Recently many people had begun visiting the village in weekends whether there was any event or not.


The purposes for their visits were vary from volunteer for wild vegetables gathering and agriculture to photos taking.  They stayed at Yama-no-manabiya, renovated by volunteers for the revival from earthquake  , and changed their plan flexibly depending on the weather and villagers’ schedules.

There were variety of ways for staying, such as “The villagers took them for wild vegetable gathering and they gave foot acupressure point massage to the villagers in return”, “They took photos and held a small photo exhibition then they invited the villagers to it” and “They receive some instructions for growing vegetables through helping agriculture”. They had been participants for “Village Revitalization Volunteer” or “Let’s Go to TAMBO” and they repeatedly visited the village. It seemed that each of them carried out “the things which they can help the village with their fun”. We felt that the elderly villagers gradually remembered the volunteers’ names and the category such as volunteers and recipients became unclear, then they were personally getting closer and closer.

Who made the stay possible was migrants  to the village, who stayed continuously in the village. They were supporting many people’s stay by detail operations  such as arrangement and contact with villagers, preparation for the stays, lifts and shopping  Moreover, some volunteers started staying for medium-long tern, more than 1 week, this year. The migrants and the medium-long-stay volunteers let the relationship between villagers and other volunteers be close, the Village revitalization seemed to move on to the next stage

By Momiyama

May 20, 2010 in Niigata |

Changing Seasons

In Japan, most people recognize four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.
In Sudan, however, there seems to be some extra ones. For example, last month was the ‘election season,’ which has now passed and given way to the ‘rainy season’. Occasional bursts of torrential rain have benefits as well as disadvantages. Their main perks include cooler temperature (down from 48 degrees Celsius in February), which allows us now to sleep at night, and pretty clouds, which give way to beautiful sunsets. The downside includes roads being inundated, suddenly burgeoning mosquitoes, and disruption of work.

100520_former_bridge_between_gudele For example, some of the local people who were helping to construct primary schools in the Juba County literally had their work washed away. When I found out about their problem, I tried to visit them to see it in person only to find myself stuck because the bridge on the way had also been destroyed in the deluge.

100520_dsc00014_small It was not a typhoon but still another unexpected challenge to overcome. Bring on the ‘dry season’!

May 20, 2010 in South Sudan |

To Recover the Life We Once Had

It will soon be one year since the conclusion of the 26-year conflict, the longest in Asia.

The Tamil people live in the northern regions of Sri Lanka. Virtually all of them were caught up in the war and taken as “human shields” for the anti-government movement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). They became refugees, running from the government forces that pursued them, and finally fled here through harsh gunfire.

At present, these people are ending nearly two years of refugee existence to finally return to their ruined homes. Though anxious, they are fighting to re-establish their former lives. Today, we will introduce one of those returnees.

Nawam (47 years old)
When we returned to our own homes in March, all we received from the UN was sugar, oil and grain such as rice and wheat. In April, we received food such as curry powder and coconuts from JEN. We’re a family of seven, so that helped a great deal. The day the cooking supplies from JEN arrived was like a festival day; we had four different types of delicious, flavored curries which we hadn’t eaten in a long time.
I’m a car repairman, and plan to look for work soon. We lost my wife in the war, so my children seem nervous about me going far away for work. I still have no idea what I should do from here on.


May 20, 2010 in Sri Lanka |


Education Condition in Afghanistan

After the Taliban regime was overthrown in 2001, changes occurred in the country’s education situation. The Afghan government, receiving assistance from the international community, worked hard to increase the number of schools and other education facilities. To give their children a better future in a safer and wealthier country is what the Afghan people wish for the most.

Being educated in a school, I believe, is the first step toward realizing that hope. During the war, many schools were destroyed, thereby degrading the education system in Afghanistan. Since the peace in 2001, the educational environment significantly improved, as the Afghan government, in cooperation with the international community, reconstructed several hundreds of schools and educational facilities.

There are, however, some problems that currently remain unresolved. Because many districts in this country do not have enough school buildings and lack other educational facilities, children are studying under tents or in open area. On the other hand, the largest issue is the lack of public security in certain regions in Afghanistan. It is quite a serious issue, as school students and teachers are sometimes directly targeted for attack. Another issue, furthermore, is people’s economic situation. In Afghanistan, there are families that do not earn enough income to survive each day. Children in such households are not given the opportunity to be educated, shut in their homes to earn money doing difficult tasks. Thousands of children on the streets are forced to work in stringent work conditions because their families are poor.

Despite such abject situation, children try to go to school. They believe that education can save them and let them lead a better life in the future.

Prepared by: A.Fahim

May 13, 2010 in Afghanistan |

Another Farewell

At last JEN’s projects are coming to an end in Indonesia. JEN completed 3 projects after the devastating earthquake in West Sumatera that occurred on September 30th 2009. The 4th project is continuing but will end soon. The people who were affected by the earthquake are regaining their original daily lives by now. Many NGOs had worked for the early recovery and community development projects, but the NGOs who worked for emergency phases are almost gone from the area.

People received toolkits that we were distributing, with which they removed the debris of their damaged houses, and began to rebuild their houses from scratch. We also implemented disaster prevention education, through which people become prepared to face possible future earthquakes.  Latrines were constructed and hygiene workshops were held at local schools for students and teachers, all in order to improve schools and raise awareness of disaster prevention. .

It is always sad to leave a place after having spent many months there. You gradually grow attachment to the local residents and colleagues. That was what happened to me after completing the projects in Kashmir, Balochistan and NWFP. Now it is time to say goodbye to Indonesia. What’s relieving is to see the smiles of happiness on the faces of affected people, who received help from JEN. That is the goal of all our projects.

100513_img_6591_resize_resize  All the JEN expatriate staffs, local staffs and friends attended a farewell party and dinner last week in Padang. JEN local staffs sung Japanese song ‘’Kokoro-no Tomo (a Japanese song by Mayumi Itsuwa that is popular in Indonesia)’’ for the expatriate staff, which was very nice but sad.

In the end we all hope that people in West Sumatra are safe and secure from any future disaster and that they will restore their original lives quickly.


Project leader: Azmat Ali

May 13, 2010 in Indonesia |

Now I Feel More Secure

100513_my_tukul_resized JEN’s Sudan Office and Residence are in the same compound. A Tukul was constructed in the compound to serve as a store. A Tukul is a hut made with mud bricks and roofs covered with hay leaves.

The Tukul

100513_dsc05151_2 It’s more or less better than the rest for the room is cooler, except for one problem; security-wise it is not recommendable. It can be easily attacked but thank God nothing has happened yet.

After a long discussion with the JEN Headquarters, we now reached a decision that I deem was wise; a permanent construction of two rooms that are connected to the old building is ongoing. Thank you to all who were involved in making this decision!

May 13, 2010 in South Sudan |

Iraqi Women’s Headwear

Last time, I introduced you to Iraqi men’s headwear called kafiyyeh. This time, I would like to talk about the Muslim women’s headwear.

You might easily imagine what they look like, but people may imagine them differently. One might imagine it to be a piece of black cloth that covers from head to toe except for the eyes, while another may imagine it to be a piece of white cloth that covers from head to back.

Here in Jordan, where we have the JEN office, we see women in different head wears, but the most popular style is the one that covers from head to neck. There are many different color variations among these cloths, and some of them are embroidered. There are many ways to wear it, too, but today I will introduce you the simplest way.

100513 1)Bind your hair up with a wide hair band. Please be careful not to show your ears and hair.




100513_222)Wear the cloth from your head and leave one end longer than the other. Roll up the short end to your throat to hide your neck.




100513_32 3)Pull up the longer end (right side of the picture) over your neck, around your head, to your right ear. Fix the cloth around the ear (marked with an arrow on the picture) with a pin, and you now have the Iraqi headwear!

May 13, 2010 in Iraq |


The Spirit of Gotong Royong


After a two-hour drive from the Padang City onto the West into the mountains, we arrive in a district called V Koto Timur.  It is a peaceful agricultural province that has rice terraces in the mountains, larger than the ones in Bali, and coconut trees surrounding the roads, which are over ten meters tall.  We interviewed the chief of the Kudu Gantan village, where JEN first distributed emergency supplies.

“The houses in the village were completely destroyed by the earthquake. While the scale of damage varies by region, all the villagers were absolutely shocked by the awful earthquake, which had been an unprecedented experience for everyone.

Just after the earthquake, personnel from JEN arrived.  They asked me to make a list of the village residents.  As a chief of the village, I had been managing the villager list, so I immediately handed them the list. 


JEN prepared to distribute debris removal kits and a set of tools, such as wheelbarrows, per five households, to families with higher priority. We had a custom called Gotong Royong (working together), in which we support our neighbours. Soon, the villagers started removing the debris of each other’s houses. Now, we are almost done removing the debris, so we are reconstructing our houses by ourselves.  These tools were distributed by JEN at the time.


here were sometimes minor conflicts among the villagers and I had been solving them by intervening them.  However, the situation right after the earthquake was not something I could deal with by myself.  The tools we received from JEN us, who had lost everything at the time, hope and half of the power we have always had.  The second half is the part we ourselves need to work on.


We have learned several things by heart from this earthquake experience: 1) To assist those who are going through hard times, 2) To stockpile food, and 3) To support each other by integrating villagers, teachers, and the government.

May 11, 2010 in Indonesia |

Village Revitalization Volunteer 2010

It’s that time of the year again! Let’s visit the village over a weekend and participate in some volunteering activities!
Ever since the Chuetsu Earthquake that hit Niigata Prefecture in October 2004, JEN has been assisting the Iketani and Iriyama villages (population: 13 people, 7 households) through organizing various volunteer events.
Examples of activities: road construction, village maintenance work, grass mowing, help in agricultural work, preparation and participation in Harvest Celebration, Exchange with the villagers
2010 Schedule

Second session
July 2nd Fri – July 4th Sun
Grass mowing

Third session
Sep 18th Sat – Sep 20th Mon
Grass mowing

Fourth session
Nov 5th Fri – Nov 7th Sun
Harvest Celebration

Fifth session
Nov 19th Fri – Nov 21st Sun
Snowshed building


Accommodation place: Renovated accommodation of former elementary school building
Available slots: 15 participants per each session
Fee: \6,000 for 3 days 2 nights
(including accommodation and food. Transportation fee is not included, to be born by the participants. Village is accessible by car)
Where to meet: 21:30 of the first day at the ticket wicket of Tokamachi Station of Hokuhoku Line (local train) in Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture. The event will finish at 13:00 of the last day at the same place. (Time may vary)
Deadline: First come, first served basis.
What to bring: Gloves, boots, long sleeve t-shirts, hat, mask, rain-gear etc. (The village can lend boots also. Please ask for more details.)
How to sign up: Please download the sign up sheet, and either fax it or email it to JEN. Registration is equally possible by telephone.

Contact: JEN Tokyo Headquarters
Tel: 03-5225-9352
Fax: 03-5225-9357

This event is run in cooperation with Tokamachi City Regional Development Committee.

May 11, 2010 in Niigata |


Assistance for Self-Reliance, Part 2

Following the lecture on hygiene maintenance, we decided to give a lecture in which we review the meaning of humanitarian assistance. The meaning of humanitarian assistance is “principles”. Elmaille and Berlande, who had already received the training, delivered this lecture.

The principles of humanitarianism are outlined in the “Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross, Red Crescent Movement, and NGOs in Disaster Relief.” JEN also signed this code of conduct.  To respect these principles is the basis of our work.

Without humanitarianism, equity, independence, neutrality, non-violence, non-malfeasance, accountability, transparency, and a profound belief that humanity is the first priority, one cannot be called a humanitarian.

At the end of the lecture, our program officer Romain gave a project report in the first month he had been working for JEN. We assessed what we had learned, what went wrong and well in Haiti during this past month. 

Through this assessment, we were able to see our results from an objective point of view.  In addition, by sharing our assessments with each other, we were able to bond as a team and return to work in a refreshed mind.

May 7, 2010 in Haiti |