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“Autumn Is Just Around The Corner” From Oshika Peninsula

It has been 6 months since the Earthquake and Tsunami that struck Japan.

JEN, has been holding regular “Ochakko Nomi” or Tea Drinking parties since August 21st inside the meeting rooms at the temporary dwelling areas of Oshika Peninsula.

Jen is hoping that the people who recently moved into their houses there manage to communicate and share their experiences with the other residents, and a new strong-bonded community filled with laughter flourishes.

How to make this small village alive the same way projects like the “Community Space” in the City of Ishimaki? Every day Jen goes around the peninsula to listen to the voice of its inhabitants and their opinions about this matter.

To get to the Oshika Peninsula, we have to cross the bridge that connects the peninsula and the mainland while driving along the beautiful coast .

Right after we cross, there is an incredible view that jumps into our eyes.

We take a look at the mainland, and although it is low tide time, the level of the sea water is very high.


The road that goes along the coast looks like this all the way long. For the people of the Oshika Peninsula this is their real “lifeline”. And so is for us. We are aware of the dangers that await us; the road could crumble if the weather suddenly changes or if an aftershock occurs. But we are decided to go. Even now, 5 months after the disaster.


A small beach swallowed by the high tide.

Autumn is just around the corner...


August 26, 2011 in Tohoku earthquake |


Unseasonable Lavenders


It was almost September. Unseasonable lavenders are giving off faint and tender fragrance which you can recognize from 10 meters away.

There are queues of crane trucks and lorries but few pedestrians.

The town remains stopped ever since “that day”.

Plant is taking roots. We firmly believe that the town will come to life and liven up soon again in near future.

August 25, 2011 in Tohoku earthquake |

Supporting Charikar Girls School

In Charikar, Parwan Province of Afghanistan, the construction of the outer wall and the construction of septic tank of the toilet finished at last. This project was supported by the International Exchange Association of Chikumagawa.


Before the construction of Baba hill Girls School, the community of the village protected the infrastructure of the school by surrounding with a wall made of mud. But it was built temporary so it is very fragile and not enough strength to rain.


There was no septic tank for the toilet, so the insanity condition was not appropriate.


Therefore, after adjustment with the local education authorities, JEN built a stiff concrete surrounding wall at the Baba Hill Girls School at Charikar city.

For this wall, the children are secured from the outside circumstance and feel safe to study. Additionally, the parents also feel secure to let their children study at school and the number of girls pupil going to school are increasing.

The toilet of the school septic tank constructed improved the water insanity and the environment of the neighbors. There is no unclean water running around beside and changed to an environment without being uncomfortable.


We would like to express our appreciation to the people who support us and we are willing to support more people in Afghanistan.

August 25, 2011 in Afghanistan |

Self introduction of a staff: Kaiser Khan

My name is Kaiser Khan. I’ m a general affairs and accounting assistant under the supervision of the international general affairs and accounting staff.

I was born in Bata Kara in 1983. Bata Kara is a small town in Swabi District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, and it is near one of the largest dams in Asia.

I went to a local public high school, and then went on to a university in Mardan District in 2001.

We had a big earthquake in 2005, and I started to work as a volunteer accounting assistant at a local humanitarian group that supported rural areas in Mansehra District.

After working one year at the group, I decided to go on to graduate school. I went into the University of Peshawar Postgraduate College, and earned my master’s degree in finance and accounting.

In 2008, the Pakistan Army began a military action against extremists in Swat District. Because of this, thousands of families sought refuge to host families in the central city of Peshawar, Mardan District and Swabi District. Some of those people found shelters in IDPs’ camps.


From there, I was determined to work in humanitarian sector again, and soon after that, I found a job in a local agency. As I had wanted to support people through NGO or International NGO, I worked for the agency for three years.

The agency was cooperating with other International NGO as a partner, so I got a very good practical experience while I was working there. Because of this experience, I became confident in working in any environment.
After completing the projects I had been in charge at the agency, I decided to work in an international organization to expand my knowledge and work in better environment. I found JEN’s classified on newspaper and applied for the job. I feel blessed to be able to work at JEN.

I am now working at JEN’s Islamabad office. All of the staff here are cooperative and friendly, so I feel this is a good work environment. I hope I can gain more experience and improve my skills in accounting and management jobs through working at JEN.

August 25, 2011 in Pakistan |

"The world's oldest toilet"  The birthplace of the flush toilet was Iraq! ?

JEN is currently working on a project to repair schools and a hygiene promotion project for 21 schools in five prefectures in Iraq.  We received photos from Baghdad every week, photos about running water and repaired clean toilets which were dirty or broken before.


As you can see from the photo, toilet being used at an elementary school in Iraq is very similar to the Japanese style toilet. However, the squat direction is reverse to the Japanese one.

Since we’re working on repairing toilets, we found an interesting story about toilet circumstances in Iraq. It is said that there is the world's oldest toilet in Iraq.

The world's oldest toilet was discovered in the ruins of Tell Asmar Eshuan'na (60km northeast of Baghdad, Diarra prefecture) which flourished as the city of Akkad dynasty around 2200 BC.
This toilet about 4000 years ago, toilet seats were piled up as U-shaped with brick. It is said that they have already been able to sit. It is further assumed that pipe work and sewer pipes were sanitary and equipped as modern system. Sewage was surprisingly flush lavatory which flowing into a tributary of the river Tigris.  This flush lavatory was said to be used not only in the palace but also in the general home.

From the above, it seems that Iraq is considered the birthplace of flush lavatory.

JEN wants to equip sanitary toilets which will not lose much to the toilet of 4000 years ago.

August 25, 2011 in Iraq |


“Ojakko Nomi” from Oshika Peninsula

 Up to the end of September, we are close to ending aid distribution.

JEN, going forward, give research for picking up even tiny demands from people who live in temporary dwelling area, and continue developing long term supporting activities for them based on their opinion.

This is the first time that people get together and talk about their live there.
It is called “Ojakko Nomi” in the temporary dwelling area at Oshika Peninsula.

“Ojakko Nomi” in Ishinomaki is that getting together in neighbours to enjoy chatting with tea, sweets and pickles.

<Photo: Lounge chat room in the temporary dwelling area.>

<Photo: Everyone is sitting in a ring and enjoying “Ojakko Nomi”.>

People, who moved into this temporary dwelling area, came from different peripheral districts.   Approximately half of the residents attended the “Ojakko Nomi”.

“It is the first time to meet with everyone like this” said grannies.   They performed singing and dancing each other with showing a bit of shyness.

It has been one month since they moved into here, and people have gradually settled.   However, they still clearly remember about the earthquake and the living in evacuation shelters, and seldom talk about stories of those days.   Despite of the facts, “Ojakko Nomi” is a kind of trigger to put them in a positive state, and they started giving their opinion such as…
“We had better organise a neighborhood association.”
“We need some rules for living here”
“We would like to have a manual labour something like needlework together”

When JEN left the place, they gave greetings that, “When will you come next time? What shall we do for next “Ojakko Nomi” and sounded like looking forward to JEN’s next visit already.

August 23, 2011 in Tohoku earthquake |


One year in Sudan

It has been a year since I started working at Juba office in September 2010.

Juba city had been dramatically changed in one year.

A year ago, there were much rubbish in the city and dirty cracked plastic bottles were abandoned in all streets.
These days, rubbish bin for separating in 5 kinds were installed, number of paved roads were increasing and over 2 storied building had been constructed

On the other hand, there were many things which had not obviously changed.
I had been impressed that Africa had a lot of issues to be solved since I had come to Africa.
South Sudan, an inland country in huge continent, had many issues. Co-operation with neighbour countries was necessary to live in peace for people as some issues were not able to be solved by South Sudan itself.

I would never forget the light of people’s eyes after the independence. I strongly hoped that JEN support people not to be faded the light of that day.

I thanked for the fact that I am able to work with them and I would like to continue this work to let many people smile.

(Michi Ito, Administration Finance Officer)

======= Information===========
JEN received an award from Minister of Foreign Affairs

August 18, 2011 in South Sudan |

Encounters at Kali Amma Festival

On 10th August, Kali Amma Festival was held in Vavunlya where our branch is located.
Kali is said to be a representation of rage of Princess Parvati of Lord Shiva in the religion of Hindu, and also regarded as Female God.
Amma means “mother”, Parvati is mother of Ganeza who is known as having elephant’s head.
Mirthful music is a sign that a float and monks of Hindu religion have been coming.


Each family waits and sets out rice and bananas as altarages.
The central one in the picture is a coconut.
The grandfather of this home told me “Coconut is constituted by 3 parts, and represents things what human need for. The most outer shell represents human’s mind. Fructification represents foods for living, and water is the thing which is necessary for life”


The party is organized that Girls are leading and marching band, monks and a float follow in order.
Brahmin comes by each home for chanting a sutra and giving out a smoke of candles of offering to the family.  (like a ritual using thurible of temple in Japan)


After that, Brahmin gave alterages to the family, people on a float and others of the party, and head for next home.
The grandfather answered my questions and finally gave me farewell, “Thank you for interesting in our religion.”
And Brahmin recommended with smile me to get a smoke even though I’m heathendom.
Today’s Kali Amma Festival, I was so impressed by people here.

August 18, 2011 in Sri Lanka |

One and half year since godou-godou*

JEN Staff(J): Hello, could you introduce yourself?

Marie-Louise(M):Hello, My name is Derazin Marie Luis from Grand Goave. I'm 35 years old, wife and a mother of 4.


J:Where were you when the earthquake hit? What did you do after it happened.

M:When the earthquake hit, I was with 2 of my kids and 3 friends at home.
I was with 2 of my friends in the kitchen and I felt the big wobble all of a sudden. We hurried to get out of the house and then tell our kids to get out. But they hid inside of the house.
Somehow we managed to take them outside. Fortunately all of us at my house were safe.
Our house didn't get too much damage that only windows got broken. However, houses in the neighborhood collapsed and we heard people screaming.
Right after the earthquake, we evacuated to the countryside with little possesion. Then we have shared a tent with 65-70 families.
Aftershocks kept going everyday. Sometimes it happens every 2hours.I went back to my house to get some belongings once, but we couldn't stay ther for long. Neighbors vacant their houses for monthes.
After 3 monthes later, I finally decided to go back to my house. But most of the people were scared to go back or had no house anymore.

J:Do you think your friends were effected with the earthquake?

M:My aunt and uncle who lived in Port-au-Prince were killed in the corruption of a building.
Obviously, many people were killed with this earthquake. I heard there were 6 people became victims.

J:How do you think Haiti will be in the future?

M:I have no idea. In Haiti, the leader isn't really reliable. Nothing seems moving.
J:What do you think about the international aid organizations that came to Haiti right after the earthquake?
M:They are doing great.For example, JEN provided water which is important to survive.
Also Terre des Hommes helped children, OIM built houses for people at the camp.Samaritan Purse set up toilet facility.

J:What do you think holds back the recovery in Haiti?

M:Well, we don't have enough education facilities. Especially in Port-au-Prince, many children are living on the street and don't have a chance to go to schools. Also, we need basic hygene education.

*godou-godou >> the onomatopoeic Haitian word for earthquake

August 18, 2011 in Haiti |



Last week, the Islamic nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan entered Ramadan. During the Ramadan, from sunrise to sunset, dining and smoking is prohibited. It is a holy period to appreciate their daily meal.

Depending on the area, the time to fast is different and during the period, the beginning and ending differs. In Pakistan and in Afghanistan, fasting begins at 3:30 AM until 7:00 PM. After the fast ends, the meal after the fast is called Iftal.

This time I will introduce what Iftal is like.



On the summit of Margara in Islamabad, there is a very popular restaurant. During Iftal, all restaurants prepare Iftal buffet and is crowded with people. There are a lot of dishes in front of the store of the market. 

Families and friends all gather and share their meal. After a long time of fasting, they begin with dates and water and then move to the main dish.

The chef is very busy. He cooks the kabab one by another. The waiter is running around carrying a lot of food.

A Pakistani dish, nan and kebab are very tasty with a nice amount of spice. You appreciate your meal during your Iftal meal. It is special moment to share your meal with your family and friends with a lot of people.

Why not trying to fast your meal?

August 11, 2011 in Afghanistan |

Ramadan 2011

Ramadan is in September in Islamic calendar. Muslims all over the world fast in Ramadan. Fasting for a whole month has a good influence on mental and physical health.

The interesting thing about Ramadan is that there is 10 days difference between Islamic and western calendar every year. Each year, the first day of Ramadan comes 10 days earlier than last year. For example, Ramadan began on August 10 in 2010 and on August 1 in 2011.

Last year, we fasted with flood victims in Kohat District. JEN distributed goods other than food in the first week of Ramadan for the first project in the area. The goal at that time was to support the most damaged and vulnerable victims in the environment in which the temperature had been 40 to 45 degrees every day.

It has been one year now since the flood occurred last year, and JEN is about to begin the occupational recovery support for IDPs in Dera Ismail Khan District.

The subject for the support this time is three villages in Paharpur in Dera Ismail Khan District. The project site is located at the roadside of Chashma Road, which connects Dera Ismail Khan District and Mianwali District. In Paharpur, there are fertile lands and drains that flow from the Indus River into various agricultural lands. All kinds of crops including wheat, corn, and vegetables grow there.


Especially dates are one of the most important products of Paharpur. The area called Dhakki in Paharpur is famous for delicious dates, and they are shipped out to other areas in Pakistan.
Dates and various kinds of mangoes grow well because it is hot during the whole year in Dera Ismail Khan District.


Dates are important food during the Ramadan period. Muslims bear the hunger while craving for dates and water, and take a break after 15 hours of fast each day.
JEN’s staff bought dates for Ramadan at the local market in Dera Ismail Khan for their family.

August 11, 2011 in Pakistan |

Microcosm of Iraq : Kirkuk

We would like to introduce Kirkuk, which is one of the places JEN is working.

Kirkuk is located at 230 km to the north of Baghdad, three hours by car.  The population is about 600,000.  Various ethnic groups, Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen, Assyrian, etc. (Christians) are living. Also, it has been known as the location of the largest oil fields in Iraq. The political struggle is not extinct due to the entanglement of ethnic  complexity and oil interests.


Also here in Kirkuk, JEN has conducted projects to repair schools and sanitary workshops for infectious disease prophylaxis which will provide hygienic toilets and water to the children.

Mr. Kokayan Nadun, who is a principal of Ibn Gevaert elementary school which JEN finished the repair, told that “We are very excited that the toilets and water at school have been repaired and now clean. Kirkuk is composed of various ethnic Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen. And if the support focused on one nation, there is a risk of conflict. Therefore, I appreciate that JEN has supported us regardless of ethnicity.  And I’m dearly waiting for the day when our children can study side by side in one classroom”.

In Kirkuk, each ethnic group, Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen, has done the education in their own language (Arabic, Kurdish, Turkmen). That is why children are currently studying divided into ethnic groups.

Kirkuk is referred to as "a microcosm of Iraq" because of the complex ethnic composition and religious circumstances. We just hope that children can study together, regardless of the ethnic groups, in the near future.

Children of Kirkuk: practicing of tooth brushing at school

August 11, 2011 in Iraq |


Call for volunteers from July to September.

More than 1700 people participated in JEN’s activity as a volunteer.

We were able to remove mud and sludge in Watanoha Area and Oshika Area, distribute relief supplies to temporary house, and provide warm meal every lunch and dinner for the people cleaning up their houses covered with mud, with support from many people.

Large area was devastated by tsunami.

Thank you to all volunteers coming from all over Japan, we look for precious items from piles of sludge, and share the joy with those owners when we find them.

To encourage positive thinking of Tohoku people to go back to regular life, we are looking forward for your support.

Please see below for details of volunteer call from July to September.

Thank you very much for your support.

<Terms and conditions>
1.Transportation to come to Ishinomaki must be organized by the volunteers
2.Volunteers will work and lodge in groups.
3.Volunteers need to bring a sleeping bag, food and drinks for their consumption, work clothes (rubber boots, rubber gloves, long sleeve T-shirt and trousers).

Time and meeting point may change due to local situation. Please check our website before departure for any changes. Thank you for your cooperation.

※Please note that the meeting point differs on Wednesdays (arriving the day before) and Saturdays (arriving in the morning).

※As the office is small, there are no space for the volunteers to stay and wait. Please assemble approx 5 minutes before the meeting time.

※If the application does not reach the quota, the application will be open for volunteering. Please ask individually. The application will be closed once we have 20 volunteers.

Every Wednesday (Application deadline: 5pm, 1 week prior to participation date)
July 20, 27, August 3, 8 10, 17, 24, August 24, 31, September 7, 14, 21, and 28.
Meeting point: Outside of JEN Ishinomaki office(※)
Meeting time: Previous day (Tuesday) at 5:45pm.

★The Orientation will be held after assembling. Volunteers will be sent to the Rest House after the orientation (leaving 6pm).
※Address: SASADENBILL201, 3-13 Isenba, Ishinomaki City (5 minutes walk from JR Ishinomaki Station)

Every Saturday (Application deadline: 17pm, 1 week prior to participation date)
July 23, 30, August 6, 13, 20, 27, September 3, 10, 17, and 24.
Meeting point: Prefabricated building next to Senshu Univ. (former JEN Office)(※)
Meeting Time: Saturday 9am

★Orientation will be held after assembling. Volunteers will move to work areas after the Orientation.
※Address: 284-1 Minamizakai Shinmito, Ishinomaki City (1 minute walk from main gate of Ishinomaki Senshu Univ.

JEN Watanoha House
Address: 48-2 Watanoha aza Yamazaki, Ishinomaki City
※If number of volunteers reached 20 quota, prefabricated building next to Senshu Univ. (284-1 Minmizakai Shinmito, Ishinomaki City).

<Work Description>
◆Mud and sludge removal at individual house (removing mud, sludge, trash, furniture affected by water)
◆Support distributing relief supplies to temporary house.
◆Support fishery reconstructure activities.
◆Cleaning up streams, shrines, and parks

And, any other work necessary.
Work may change due to supporting needs. Thank you for your understanding.

<Other Information>
◆JEN will contact volunteers by email or phone to confirm application of volunteers.
◆Application will be closed once we reach quota.
◆Minimum activity period is 1 day. Weekday activities are welcome.
◆Volunteering activities are closed on Tuesdays.
◆Please contact JEN for continuous volunteering.
◆There is a possibility that work will be cancelled in case of rain.

<Volunteering Insurance>
It is mandatory to join the Volunteering Insurance. Until August, JEN will look after application and cost of joining Natural Disaster Plan A.
Please look after your own Volunteering Insurance application after September at Japan National Council of Social Welfare. Once applied, it is valid until end of March 2012.

Application Form →「application_eng.doc」をダウンロード

Please contact  volunteer@jen-npo.org  for any question.

August 10, 2011 in Tohoku earthquake |


Generous South Sudanese

I will introduce a case which shows how generous South Sudanese are.

Banks are always packed by many people. There are so many tall people in South Sudan. My height reaches only to their chest. Just after I arrived South Sudan, I put maximum effort to queuing long time with avoiding being cut in on and protecting myself.

It is permitted to leave the queue while we waiting out turn here. Sometimes, we have to wait more than two hours at banks. While we are waiting, we can leave the queue and come back by getting permission of the people queuing previous and behind us.

So that, it happens regularly that when I thought my turn is coming soon, a person who had left the queue came back and I have to wait more. I am not really happy to accept this as I have been waiting for long time, however, every one welcomes the person. I am always impressed how generous they are!

(Michi Ito, Administration Finance Officer)

======= Information===========
JEN received an award from Minister of Foreign Affairs

JEN is deeply grateful to your kind support to our projects.

August 4, 2011 in South Sudan |

Distribution of relief supplies to temporary housing

Moving in to the temporary housing is proceeding steadily.

JEN has distributed relief supplies to approxmately 4500 temporary housing out of 7900, which is scheduled to be constructed in Ishinomaki City.

P1010304 P1010284
<photo: It was a long day to distribute relief supplies to 292 households.>

JEN is asking this distribution staff to be covered by Ishinomaki residents as an occupation, to lead to job development in the area.

Mr. Ogata, who is involved in this project says,

“I can work for the reconstruction of the area I am actually living. I feel very happy about that. I can’t wait to see the people moving in to the temporary housing.”


It will take a little more time for the construction of the temporary housings to complete. A lot of work still needs to be done.

For donation…

○Postal transfer account No.: 00170-2-538657
Account holder: JEN

Please write “Tohoku Earthquake” on the liaison column.

○Credit card: http://bit.ly/c7R8iA 
Please select “Tohoku Earthquake” from the pull-down.

For any inquiries regarding bank transfers, please contact JEN Tokyo Office (phone: 03-5225-9352, contact: Tomita or Asakawa).

August 4, 2011 |

Develop a concept of community-Part 2


JEN’s staff now has been in the town, Pignon, which is located in the north of Haiti, for the second training presided by HO. HO has worked there since 1997 and there are already a lot of wells which the local community has been maintained themselves.

Staff members asked many questions about the way how to maintain and so on after seeing the practical activity of HO. But the other director of HO, Neal said;

「Afterwards, there would be more than one way to find the technical solution like that. But most important thing is whether the community is built on the three believes.
1; Transparency, 2; Obligation, Duty, 3 ; Accountability.
Please remember that you won’t take a short view and always think about how you should do to pursue for the three believes. 」


For example, there won’t be the transparency if the residents haven’t known the presence of the Water committee.
HO show up to the community and examine the people if they understand what the rule based on the Water committee is working, how much is the monthly water fee, and what is the penalty for them if they break the rule.

HO won’t fix nor install the pomp if people will not pass the exam. They carry into action for the maintenance or installing the pomp after they confirmed whether the committee has been workable or not.

It is really big issue for the people who have almost no income whether they have to pay for water about 50-100 yen or not as a month.


JEN’s project, to develop a concept of community will go on to talk around people about the importance that they can use their well in the long run and the effectiveness of the effort as a community to solve their problem.

August 4, 2011 in Haiti |

A Wedding Ceremony

Our staff in Colombo branch had a wedding ceremony.
We would like to write of the wedding ceremony which is a different style from Japanese one.

We would like to show firstly about dresses. The wedding dress is Saree (as traditional cloth in Sri Lanka) which colored stark white and spun golden, and long veil.

We felt that a wedding reception banquet had larger difference than the wedding ceremony.
Because of that there is no seating list, guests chose their favorite table on a first come first served basis. Although opening time had been set, guests came to the reception banquet whenever they want. We can see Sri Lanka’s culture in such a slow current of the times.


The bridal couple had appeared without announcement by MC and music, and proceeded to a wedding cake. A scenery that the bridal couple cut cake surrounded by family impressed us strong bond as a family
Dinner is buffet style; we are surprised the bride wearing the wedding dress was taking meals for herself..
Upon the bridal couple leaved the hall for getting a makeover, a dance party was begun.
Everyone, old and young people enjoyed it.


The wedding ceremony and the wedding reception had been held for 6 hours.

August 4, 2011 in Sri Lanka |