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Tale from a volunteer 5: A friend in need is a friend indeed

It Was very good to have gone as a volunteer to Ihinomaki on the last time, i felt very good to help out people there, but i think that i have to help more Japan, Because it is not enough whatever i do, Japan has given me a lot since i came here in 1990.


I'll do my best to go again and do all i can to comfort the people out their :< a friend in need is a friend indeed>.

As a Moroccan in Japan and on behalf of all Moroccans i extend my condolences to the family of the one who lost their lives in the Great earthquake of March the 11th.

Once again i thank the team JEN for giving me the opportunity to join their volunteer work in Ishinomaki.
Looking forward to serve you and Japan.

Best regards

Idrissi Moulay Omar


Share your experience with us. 
Send your message to: info@jen-npo.org

For inquiries (in English)

Sludge Removal Volunteer click here

Soup Kitchen Volunteer click here

May 30, 2011 in Volunteer InfomarionTohoku Earthquake |


Rocketing Oil Price

South Sudan recently suffered from rocketing of oil price and shortage of it. JEN team which had conducted researches at project sites had not been able to obtain fuel for cars and they had to stop the research once in order to go to buy some fuel to further area. We of course stocked some fuel for emergency, however the situation was serious that few days.

Not only fuel price, but also daily essentials’ price, included price of food, rocketed. For example, 25kg of corn flour had used to be 58 pound (applox. 1,600 yen), but it was 78 pound (applox. 2,150 yen)at that time, we could have bought 8 small breads by 1 pound, however , we could only buy 4 breads at that time. Recently many people cued in front of local bakery for buying breads.

According to local people and media, this was not only a problem of Sudan. The same situation applied to East African countries. South Sudan relies on imported fuel and flour from Khartoum、a capital of North Sudan, and Uganda, nevertheless people in Uganda participated in some demonstrations against rising price and it caused stacking up the supply.

There were large number of issues which they had to face before their independence on 9th July.

May 26, 2011 in South Sudan |

A new start back home with repaired wells

Ms. Marakasan was forced to flee from her hometown, Maragai, in 2007 August. She moved from place to place for nine times, and finally arrived at a refugee camp called Manic Farm in 2009. It was in October 2010 that she could come back home.

Before taking refuge, her husband had been a farmer working with a tractor and water pump they owned. However, she has now lost these items.


When she restarted life back home, the first problem was that her well had become unusable. The well was not only damaged but also contaminated, and human bones were found inside it. Bringing water from a far away location became her new routine.

JEN repaired and cleaned the well, so now it can be used just as before, and farming became possible again.

(This program is carried out with cooperation from Japan Platform and our supporters).

May 26, 2011 in Sri Lanka |

The school’s circumstances in Haiti, 2011

About 80% buildings had collapsed including city hall, churches and schools in Leogan area which had been the worst affected by the earth quake on 12th January, 2010.

More than 90% are private schools in Haiti, and a land ownership issue is one of the biggest problems.
(More than 90% of the country has been reserved by 10% of population at large.)

Right after the earth quae, a lot of big international NGOs have built the makeshift schools at the empty lots of collapsed schools to the children would be able to come back to the school as soon as possible and graduate as scheduled.

In the makeshift school is separated by many wooden wall which out of range of a ceiling.

It is natural that the school hasn’t electric in Haiti and the class rooms are always student more than limited sheets. (Surprisingly, sometimes 200 children are in the room smaller than 30㎡!)

Student hardly hear what the teacher talking who are sheeting apart 2~3 m from.

Sad to say, such situation has been hardly changed, but teachers and students make effort as much as possible however the luck of educational tools, facilities, bathrooms and dinning rooms.

There are a lot of problems to build the formal school because we should have many government agencies to deal with the matter to use the authorities for official land and public sanitation.

At the same instance, we have to train good quality teachers and also think over education program.

Children are hardly assisted to lean by their family because more than 60% of population can’t read, write nor speak French, as their official language.

Their educational tools are limited to the bible and old French textbook, so there is luck of attractive subjects for kids.

Finally, it is necessity that the special approach about human material things because the teacher is lowest income groups in Haiti. Haitian children need to take education for many years when we think about the endless problems.

Now JEN settle the public plumbing for drinking with Yachiyo Engineering and provides health education for the teachers at 13 schools in the central place in Logan.

We wish the way for better future will be opened for Haiti.

May 26, 2011 in Haiti |


Tale from a volunteer 4: To Care and To Be Cared

~ That care is all you need. Let’s go volunteering! ~ by K.K.

Nationality, age, profession, sex… It has been truly an exciting experience to live together with such a diverse team. In fact, the team got on very quickly despite the diversity.

Our work consisted of different needs. Mud removal, hay removal, roof tile removal, cleaning houses, transporting various things… None of them were easy task. And yet when I visited the affected people’s homes, all of them were so positive and strong, each holding his/her emotions for successful reconstruction.

We were told to accommodate food by ourselves, but I thought relying even a bit on local supermarkets could be a good idea, in Ishinomaki City. Supermarkets and restaurants are slowing reopening, and goods are lining up the once empty shelves. I believe using money locally is one way of assisting. On another note, receiving food from local residents is important too.

‘To care, and to be cared’ - eventually leads to a friendly environment in which all of us can work together.

  During the golden week (a week-long holiday), due to unexpected costs such as huge congestion with pouring volunteers in the area, some had to refuse accepting volunteers. Compared to the Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, with the aid of the internet and various social networking sites, I think people no longer see‘3.11’ as somebody else’s tragedy. I am one of them.

  It seems that more and more companies are becoming more flexible in regards to volunteer holidays. I hope that this will not end up as a temporary change, but will continue for half a year, one year, two years, to let us not fade the global attention and pursue continual assistance.

  “I have never done ‘volunteering’. I don’t know where to start, nor how to start!”
There must be a lot of people sharing this anxiety. If one of the many of us who have done volunteering could give them a little push

“ That care is all you need. Let’s go volunteering! “
then, the circle of assistance would expand…


We appreciate your kind support.
Donation by credit card is possible from here.

Thank you very much for your cooperation!

May 21, 2011 in Tohoku Earthquake |


Tale from a volunteer 3: Sludge Removal Volunteer in Oshika

My first experience with post-disaster volunteering - by K

52021 During the Golden Week from May 6th to 7th, for the first time in my life I participated in voluntary work.

The first day, the six of us volunteers were at Kugunari neighborhood in the northern part of Ishinomaki City, helping out with cleaning a fishing boat reparation factory .

According to the factory owner, this coastline was famous for its ‘crying sand’ - sand that when you walked on that makes ‘crying’ sounds. But now the beach itself is miserably gone in its entirety.

We found a 4-ton truck that seemed to be totally worn out, for some reason a local bus, a tractor completely buried in sludge. The ground was filled sludge blended with screws from boats, various reparation tools, nails, screws, bits of glass, and slates.

Our work consisted of removing nails, screws and bits of glass that could flat a tire, and it took us one whole day to work on an area of about two tatami mats (approximately 2*2 squared meters). The old man wanted to test the truck so we helped him with that, and surprisingly the truck began running even though it must have been under water when the tsunamis came. The winch on the truck therefore started working, and we were able to pull out the tractor that was buried deep in mud. I cannot forget the man’s contentment.

52022 The second day, we helped clean up the ground floor of a home in watanoha neighborhood.

The two days work has completely worn me out, as I do not regularly exercise, by the end of the volunteering weekend, my legs, back, shoulders and arms were so sore.

I’m not back to office, my body is still sore, but whenever I realize this, I feel that I could somehow share the pain with those affected in the North.

PS. There was a young man from Switzerland, who took a long leave from work (unpaid!) and came all the way to Japan on his own to participate in volunteer work. I could not say anything, but was just in awe with admiration and respect.

In this tiny country where tens of thousands of the fellow Japanese are in grave emergency, I believe that it is not only about sending warm messages to the area and the people, but it is about time to actually help reconstruct their livelihoods.

We appreciate your kind support.
Donation by credit card is possible from here.
Thank you very much for your cooperation!

May 20, 2011 in Tohoku Earthquake |

[Soup Kitchen Volunteers, Team 5] Kazuma disrict, making over 200 meals everyday!


Until May 9th, we had one team cooking, but from the 10th, we now have two teams. This allows us to cook more than 400 meals per day.

It’s now Kazuma district that we are doing the soup kitchen assistance. This assistance will end someday (even though we just started working here), but this place eventually should become a point in the community where people can pop by!

Recruiting volunteers for soup kitchen.

We appreciate your kind support.
Donation by credit card is possible  from here.
Thank you very much for your cooperation!

May 20, 2011 in Tohoku Earthquake |


Introducing a new staff Falhadu

My name is Farhadu Fatowat. I was born in 1984, grew up in Province of Herat in Afghanistan. In the year 2002, I graduated from Sultan Geyasdin Gori High School and received a bachelor degree in civil engineering from Herat University in 2006.

One day, I heard about the activities of JEN. Since then, I became enthusiastic to work with this kind of organization. Fortunately, I was able to work at JEN’s Charikar office from March 30th 2011 as a civil engineer.

After the thirty year conflict in Afghanistan, this conflict destroyed the economy, society, health, education, agriculture and infrastructure in many aspects. Now it is time to fulfill the vacancy. My dream is to reconstruct Afghanistan and so that the country can stand up by itself which is the dream of the whole people. We desire that in all aspects that the country will recover.

The people in Afghanistan are willing for peace and stability, and the total recovery will cover the whole country. I hope to help their wish come true and to work sincerely for the people.

Civil Engineer  Falhadu Fatwat

May 19, 2011 in Afghanistan |

Report of JEN’s Field Reconstruction Project: Effort and Reward

Pakistan has the 6th largest population in the world. 67 percent of the population lives in agricultural areas and most people make their living by agriculture. 32 percent of the total population lives under the level of poverty and the GDP growth relies on agricultural productions.

Mr. Mazullah is one of the sufferers of the flood on July 29, 2010. His field was devastated by the flood and he was forced to stop the agriculture. When he was at a loss for the construction of his field, he met our assessment team. We visited there right after the flood hit the area.


His field was recovered by the project team and JEN provided vegetable seeds, agricultural chemicals and agricultural tools. Mr. Mazullah joined the training for harvest and did seeding under the instruction of JEN’s experts.

Although knowing higher productivity makes more profit, not everyone can make it possible. They need to think about good conditions and possible problems before starting growing vegetables. The same things will happen when they sell their products to the market. Marketing knowledge directly affects sales.


JEN’s experts teach harvesting, wrapping and rating vegetables. Mr.Mazullah joined the training and then harvested and wrapped his okra with the new knowledge.


While conventionally wrapped okra was sold at 150 rupees, or approximately 150 yen, per 5-kilo bag at the local market, Mr.Mazullah’s okra was sold at 220 rupees.



He now grows about 45 kilograms of okra per day. Today he is glad to have order of 50 bags of okra from a shop. “I appreciate JEN, which gave me an opportunity to resume agriculture”, he says.


May 19, 2011 in Pakistan |

City of culture Baghdad Al-Mutanaby street

The oldest and the most famous street in Bagdag, whose whole town constitutes one culture beyond the era, is Al-Mutanaby street.

This street dates back to the Al-Saray market, which was the paper manufacturing market in Isramic dynastic period (750-1285, 1261-1519AD)originated with the Abbasid family.


You can enjoy various cultures once you step in this street.
They sell only books there and on every Friday, book lovers come here from Bagdad city and neighboring cities.


This street is 700 meters long and located between western Tigris River, which is in the central Bagdad, and Al-Rashid street.

People friendly call this street in many nicknames changing with the times.

In Isramic dynastic era it was called Darob Zahhi, in Ottoman empire era it was named Al-Khamniya, and under the occupation of British Empire in the 1920s the name was changed to Al-Saray street.


It also came to be called vaguely ’Palace street’ because there was the British military headquarter near here.

In 1936, when the Faisal I, the emperor of Iraq, requested to establish a committee which discuss the name of this street and open space, they named it Al-Mutanaby after the Arabic famous poet.

After Iraq war finished in 2003, various fields of books including the religion, the social, the political problem and also the political criticism, which was treated secretly before the end of Iraq war, began to be sold openly and freely in the Al-Matanaby street.

May 19, 2011 in Iraq |


Unprecedented natural disaster- by Keiko Kiyama

"Unprecedented natural disaster"-what does that mean? - by Keiko Kiyama (Board/Secretary General)

It is often said that this is the triple suffering with Eastern Japan massive earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear reactor accident.

"Unprecedented" can be meant by truly resulted with this triple suffering.

NGO staff, business people, scholars, government officials, politicians, and media people, adults and children..., let's do something which we never have done before.

2 months has past after the earthquake.  With the victims, all the supporters have been working so hard, and everybody is quite exhausted. However, nobody is taking a rest at all.

The reason is...just because this was a "unprecedented" natural disaster.
Everyone has been working hard up to his/her limit. 

It is not lack of the effort, but the size was too big to cope with in a short time.
The victim's environment ( QOL) at the sight is extremely hard.  But this is the real fact. 
That's why we have to keep working as much as we can, although it takes for a long time.
If you are considering any support, it will be never too late; if you are hesitating to take an action, it will be truly "too late".

Even it got a little late, important thing is "starting right now".

Let's start moving with "emergency act" in your heart.  Your act will be excessing your moral.
We have been expecting the declaration of "emergency act" by Japanese government for last 2 months. But we can not wait any longer.

Let's take an action which might excess your own moral, considering always for the best of the victims.
Our action; what you can do at where you are will change the victims' situation.

May 18, 2011 in Tohoku Earthquake |


Tale from a volunteer 2: Could you help with our house too? By P.F.

From April 23rd until May 10th, I participated the volunteering scheme, and just got back from Ishinomaki City yesterday. I was able to have a very meaningful time there.

5171 Thanks to the house we were staying at Watanoha, the volunteers from all corners of Japan were able to get along smoothly and very well. Communication went well, I believe, with the local residents of the affected area.

I got involved in cleaning two houses of this one family, whose three houses that they own were all submerged in the tsunamis. The owner of the properties were so content that we helped cleaning his houses, that the first house that we cleaned, from the next day he lent it to a friend of his that was falling into depression at an evacuation center nearby. As we were working in his houses, gradually the neighbors started talking to us, and began asking us whether we could help clean their houses too. Many people served us tea, at one point during a break, us volunteers went from houses to houses to receive tea!

One of them cooked us ‘tonjiru’ (pork-based soup) and brought it all the way to our house in Watanoha. It was as if we were receiving soup kitchen, but then I really enjoyed the conversation we had with the local residents during that dinner.

Some told me that they were worried about asking volunteers to help them, or that despite them calling for help nobody came to them. These people were beginning to reveal their inner thoughts with us.

One old lady that I talked a lot with, when I didn’t come around to see her for a few days, came to visit me a little worriedly, saying “I want to ask you for some help, but maybe you’re busy…”. There were many ‘little stories’ of the community, such as the exact borderline of the dumping ground, or individual family’s problems etc. I thought it was important to keep the balance and build a trusting relationship with them.

5172 Because I was luckily able to stay there for a long time, I was able to experience many things. In order for short-term volunteers to come in and work there easily, and for them to be received by the local community smoothly, the trusting relationship we build with the local community is essential. On this point, I thought JEN’s community-based policy was very useful and effective.

JEN staff working on site were all hard workers. I thought Mr Nimura would eventually pass out from exhaustion, but he actually seems tough than he looks!

Soon Golden Week (a week-long holiday at the end of April) will be over, and local needs will alter as time passes, I would really like to do what I can to assist the people there.

I am thinking of joining the volunteering scheme again from May 22nd until 26th.

I will bike all the way up there again! 

We appreciate your kind support.

Donation by credit card is possible  from here.

Thank you very much for your cooperation!

May 17, 2011 in Tohoku Earthquake |


New Project Launched

JEN launched a new project at Central Equatoria State.

This project aims to improve the sanitation condition through digging wells and construction of latrines as same as JEN’s past projects. It also focused more on working with the community than the past. The community members mainly worked for construction of latrines this time such as manufacturing cement, and JEN supported that.

In addition, we learned through our experience that when the wells in existence went out of order, those were left without repairing due to shortage of the parts, engineers and money. JEN aims to organize a scheme for maintain and management of wells in the community by building core team of engineers and supporting building business model.

Through those projects, JEN will support self-reliance of South Sudan and engaging locally in the establishment of the country with people in South Sudan for the independence on July 9th。

May 12, 2011 in South Sudan |

[Announcement of Leaving and Taking a post]

I, Watanabe have moved from Amman office.

I will mainly take care of general affairs and accounting jobs.

My newly post at Sri Lanka, has a lot of greenness and moisture climate, which is different from dry climate country, Jordan located in Middle East. One of my current propositions is acclimatizing this moisture climate.

The other day, I visited at Batticaloa where our former and present projects have been done.

I can see the villages at which agricultural crops are growing in abundance, and at other villages I can see soil’s color rather than green’s one. So I feel benefit of water of agriculture and wells.

And I saw the situations that each village has effectively used the wells using their own ingenuities.

While our taking with village people for a short time, I can feel their pride and self-sustainability.

I’ll try to assist Sri Lanka people with our local staffs and supports from all of our donors. Thank you for your continued help.

May 12, 2011 in Sri Lanka |

Cracked Field by Flood will be Recovered and Harvest will Come Soon.

Mr. Inyatullah is one of the sufferers of devastating flood that hit Pakistan last year. He lives in Khelbela village which is located at the riverside of Khayali. It is in the Charsadda, the most damaged district.

He made a living by growing sugar canes and wheat in the field of one acre, or 0.4 hectare, with his wife and four sons. He had a good relationship with his landlord. He paid for seeds, agricultural chemicals and agricultural tools and halved profit with his landlord.


The flood, which hit Kherbela in July 29, 2010, derived all the assets including sugar cane fields. Inyatullah family was forced to live at the relative’s. After that, Mr. Inyatullah lent money from relatives and rebuilt his house.

The field after the flood was so dry and crack that we couldn’t cultivate. A huge amount of money was necessary to recover the land. The assessment team from JEN visited there soon after the flood occurred and talked with the local farmers association. Then Mr. Inyatullah was chosen to be supported under the JEN’s reconstruction project.


The field of Mr. Inyatullah was recovered and JEN provided seeds, agricultural chemicals and tools.


Finishing seeding, pumpkins and okra are growing well. We will be able to harvest crops soon.


May 12, 2011 in Pakistan |

Cross Cluster Mapping Project (CCMP) – moving on to better coordination of organizations

Since March 2010 when JEN started its activity in Haiti, JEN has been participating in a coordination conference for groups which are conducting their activity in Leogane and Grand-Goâve.

The coordination conference organized by UNOCHA (United Nations, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) is divided by cluster (field) according to sectors of activity (water, housing, education, medical care, security and etc.). The purpose of this  conference is to deliver supports to those most in need by gathering, coordinating and diffusing information about the progress of activity in every sector.

JEN is recognized as one of the important groups mainly in the cluster of water/hygienic environment (WASH). Especially, JEN puts most of its efforts into hand pump and hygiene education campaign.

However, the coordination of supports has become more and more difficult due to the diversification of humanitarian support groups and the complication of projects. In the WASH cluster, such difficulty might be caused especially by the lack of intermediary system to exchange information from NGOs which are working in the same sector.

Under the current system, each group participates voluntarily in the coordination conference to exchange their information. However, since the exchange is made by using paper and the exchange process is complicated, it is difficult for us to get and analyze necessary information. Therefore, there are a lot of groups which give up providing information. Consequently, we have been in the situation of not knowing what are being done by other groups in the same area.

Recently, JEN has created ‘Cross Cluster Mapping Project (CCMP)’ with the cooperation of SASH (NGO). CCMP is an user-friendly intermediary tool with the use of map software called Google Earth.


On the map of CCMP, we can have a look at every group’s activities which are underway or planned in the clusters of housing, education and medical care. As all the activities are displayed on a map, we can see immediately possible overlapped projects or some vacant area. Therefore, coordination and cooperation among groups can be made effectively. Thus, time for planning will be reduced and the quality of projects will be improved. CCMP will also help us establish better relationship with local authorities by preventing duplicative activities and providing the share of transparent and clear information.


The tentative operation of the first mapping project is scheduled from May 15 to July 15, 2011. If the tentative project is performed successfully, this tool will be used for the coordination of projects in all Haiti.

May 12, 2011 in Haiti |


A Voice from the volunteer 1: Sludge Busting with JEN

"A Gaijin Point of View" - By GM (UK resident of Japan)

I worked for JEN in Ishinomaki as a “sludge-buster” on April 26 and 27, just before the Golden Week rush. I approached them because of their reputation as a zero-waste, grassroots organization that—in the words of the old Heineken jingle—“reaches places that other NGOs do not reach.”


I expected to be sleeping in my tent in the grounds of Ishinomaki along with the other volunteers, but a day or two before I arrived, JEN had managed to rent an old house just outside the tsunami zone. As a result, the JEN volunteers were lucky enough to have light, heat and even a functioning toilet. Given the physically demanding nature of the work, it was a blessing to have a place where we could relax and sleep in comfort at the end of the day. (At the campsite, it had been so cold, windy and rainy, that many volunteers had been forced to sleep sitting up in their cars.)


My fellow volunteers were an interesting and diverse bunch. There was an Afghan-born, German-educated semiconductor researcher, resident in Japan since 1991, who had driven up with his son and several of his university classmates; a German-Swiss web designer, who had taken unpaid leave from his job to fly to Japan to help out; and a Hebrew-speaking Japanese photographer who had ridden all the way up from Tokyo on his scramble bike.


People in Ishinomaki who need their houses or land cleared up submit a “needs form” to the volunteer center. The center then matches their needs with the available pool of registered volunteer labor. While I was there our allotted task was to tidy up a field at the furthest reach of the tsunami. It was a hard and time-consuming task. It took about a day to clear up all the big, heavy items of rubbish—doors, windows, beams and so forth.


It then took a further day to clear up the “wara”—the dried grass that covered most of the field. There were tangled clumps under the trees and hedges at the edges of the field. The best way to collect it was to get down on all fours and roll it up like a smelly great carpet. It was hard and dirty work, but we all felt good when the job was done.

It is estimated that the tsunami covered an area of 433,000 square kilometers, so volunteers will be needed to help with the clean up for years to come.

Thanks for your contribution, GM-san.

Share your experience with us.
Send your message to: info@jen-npo.org

For inquiries (in English)

Sludge Removal Volunteer click here

Soup Kitchen Volunteer click here

May 7, 2011 in Volunteer InfomarionTohoku Earthquake |