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Literal translation: fire-dragon-fruit

This flower blooms at night. Can you guess the name of this fruit from the Chinese character i n t he title?

As you can see from the picture of a bud, it has thorns on its leaf (green part) because this fruit belongs to the same family as cactus.
I thought it comes from South East Asia, but actually it originally comes from Mexico or Central and South America.

It tastes fresh and sweet, and contains a lot of seeds inside. The texture is like a kiwi fruit.

Have you figured it out already?   It's a dragon fruit!



It grows like this, as you can see from the picture above.

August 30, 2012 in Sri Lanka |

Ramadan has been ended!

At the end of Ramadan and in honor of Eid al-Fitr (Lesser Bairam). Most Iraqi families prepare sweets, and Klaicha (which is preferable) for consumption during Eid. Klaicha is kind of sweetened pastry that can be filled with dates or nuts.


The three days Eid activities begin for the Iraqi family at dawn of the first, through the Eid prayer at sunrise, Iraqi families have become accustomed  to begin the first day by conducting an early visit to the cemetery, to put flowers on the graves of family members (This event is limited to adults only). 
Another important ritual of the Iraqi families, is the gathering of married siblings and their families at the father’s or eldest brother’s house in the first day, to exchange greetings and have lunch together.

The remaining days of the Eid are spent either by family visits with neighbors, relatives and friends. Some of Eid's time spend with kids, visiting games-area and parks available in the city, in Baghdad there’s Al-Zawraa park which includes a large green area, zoo and games for children, the children have fun and enjoy the holiday without feeling deprived.


August 30, 2012 in Iraq |

Summer community festival of Oomori housing estate in Ishinomaki takes place.

Oomori housing estate for disaster victims is situated in Futamata district about fifteen minutes by car toward north from the center of the city of Ishinomaki, which district is abundant in natural environment surrounded by mountains and rice paddies, and a total of 450 families of 867 people are living there as of August 1, 2012. It consists of four residential areas, among which the residents of the third and the fourth one got their residents' associations started respectively. It was in late July, exactly one month ago, when we got calls from Mr. Abe and Mr. Utsumi who were the heads of those associations. They said they were seeking to hold a summer community festival of Oomori housing estate on August 25.

They told me that they hand in hand with their residents hope to make a community festival success with the help of volunteers, organizations who are involved in this housing estate including JEN. JEN's community support group in charge of community outreach replied to them that we are happy to cooperate with them. Thus the festival plan was discussed and decided on August 14 in the second meeting and has led some organizations including JEN to cooperate with the residents' associations in opening their food or toy stalls in the festival. JEN' stall offered shaved ice--usually served with flavored simple syrup--and yo-yo fishing--yo-yo fishing is a Japanese festival game of fishing balloons(with loops attached), floating in water, out with a hook. On the day, it was sunny since morning with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees and clouded with many people throughout the day.

【Photo 1: the special stage set up for the festival of Oomori housing estate】

【Photo 2: JEN's stall offers shaved ice.】

【Photo 3: JEN's stall offers yo-yo fishing】

A lot of entertainments were included in the festival; "Fureai concert"--a concert for promoting spiritual exchange--featured a "shovel-shamisen" --playing music with a shovel and a bottle opener as if it were a shamisenn, a three-stringed Japanese instrument--playing by a world champion; a performance of "Shishi-Furi"--a local dance with a lion's mask in the area of Tonami; a watermelon splitting contest; a karaoke singing competition. In the evening, people greatly enjoyed Bon dancing.

【Photo 4: Bon Dance】

The summer festival organized by residents including heads of residents' associations showcased a pleasant time of a short summer in the northern provinces of Japan.
Let's turn their collective efforts into a positive force to take one step forward.

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August 30, 2012 in Tohoku Earthquake |

Everyday Struggles -Adliya’s Story-

In the last few days, as part of a look into the selection process of schools, we visited the village of Ganji. Here we came across a woman – and today, we introduce her story.

Adliya Poni is a 57-year-old mother of 6. Her husband passed away in a land mine incident 15 years ago (1985), and with many family members lost to war Adliya raises her 6 children by herself.


One of her children is married, another an unemployed university graduate, whilst the remaining four children still attend school –which does not come free. Adliya works as a cleaner in a clinic and earns £280 per month (approx. ¥4480), somehow managing to make this suffice.

[Adliya attending to the clinic staff’s lodgings]

Whilst speaking to us, Adliya was unable to control her tears. Despite surviving the war, it seems long-term emotional effects still linger, something which she has managed to endure. It felt like a typical day in the life of Adliya.

[Program Officer Haileseless Meles]

August 30, 2012 in South Sudan |


Temporary housing residents participate in a disaster drill

As part of the continuous support for residents of temporary housing, JEN cooperates with the residents' association to hold a disaster drill.
This time we report how we have conducted a drill to supply food to disaster victims as a part of the drill. In case of a disaster, there will be no hope of receiving public assistance for at least three days in the post-disaster period due to disruption of lifelines or severed distribution systems, though they had no direct damage from the tsunami or earthquake fire. By the time some relief from outside arrives, self-reliant efforts and mutual assistance are indispensable.

The general principle of temporary housing scheme was to pick sites avoiding places affected by the tsunami and to choose residents by lottery regardless of their communities, as a result in many cases residents from different regions or hometowns came to live together.
That's why it is critical that the residents are trained in preparation for disaster so that they can cooperate with each other beyond community difference. This was the third time the drill in supplying food to disaster victims had been held, as well as evacuation and emergency life guard drill.

【Temporary housing residents gathered at a community hall. 】


This drill was conducted under the mentorship of "camper", a nonprofit organization who specializes in area protection against disaster and securing of food supplies in emergencies. JEN's local staff also took part in the drill.

【It's time to start cooking!】




The participating residents expressed their impressions saying, "I was lucky to be able to learn how to supply food for disaster victims from regional disaster prevention perspective.", "I feel that it would be nice to perform this drill routinely as a housing estate event."

【Now it's done. Take a break!】

In the wake of the disaster, it is the importance of area protection against disaster and mutual assistance in community that has got a lot of attention afresh. JEN will continue to address assistance activities for local community aimed at realizing a society where people there help each other and put their minds together.


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August 23, 2012 in Tohoku Earthquake |

The importance of the research for the project for 2013 is ongoing

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Dera Ismail Khan district and FATA the number of internally displaced persons from combat between the government military forces and the anti-government military forces is about 730 thousand. (July 2012, UNHCR)
Because the situation in their birth place is not stable, there are a few internally displaced persons returning. JEN is going to continue our research for the project towards displaced persons next year as well.

JEN’s local staff from the D.I. Khan office have started the research for the project in 2013 while they continue ones for this year.

Since JEN has targeted some areas, JEN’s investigation team sees the extent of the needs of people by visiting the villages and inspecting their life environment and having conversations with the displaced persons and the social activists in the villages.

In this picture, the staff are making sure of the places where the displaced persons are from, from the picture drawn by the social activist who is familiar with the area.

This one is about listening to elderly people in an internally displaced persons’ community about the current problems they have.

In fact JEN has investigated the environment which the internally displaced persons live. Like the picture bellow suggests, some people stay at not so sturdy housing constructions made of mud and sand.


Based on the collected information from each area, JEN will select the area that needs the most support and decide the details of their activities.

August 23, 2012 in Pakistan |

Health Education to Mullahs

At present, JEN is working on the spread of hygienic concept and habit throughout school children’s families and surrounding community, by educating the children. Indeed through our project of last year, we were assured that the information on hygiene was spreading from the children to their parents. The project, intended for school children, has continued into this year heading for the equivalent success.

On the other hand, some parents in the area, where JEN has been operating, do not have children at school age or are not able to send their school-age children to school because of various circumstances.
     So, JEN has newly started trying to provide health education to Mullahs, Muslim clerics, in addition to children, in order to familiarize more people with the knowledge and habit of good hygiene.

In Islam, Friday is a day for important congregational worship. Afghanistan is a religious Muslim country, where most people go to mosques for prayers regardless of having school children. However, only men are allowed in the mosques in this country. As Mullahs deliver a sermon before the congregational worships, we let them talk about hygiene there. Then the men, who still now have power as the head of a family, can give out the information to women and children, eventually to the entire community. That is what JEN has been aiming for.

We provided a three-day training for health education to 348 Mullahs over a period from late July to early August.


Personal hygiene is one of the teachings of Islam, which may be why the training was so lively that the Mullahs actively asked the trainer questions having a great interest in health education.


Here is some feedback from the Mullahs after the training.
“No government organizations or NGO have trained Mullahs before. We had known only the conventional hand-washing method. But this training included the more effective hand-washing technique and a method to make oral rehydration salt, which enhanced our knowledge of hygiene.” (Shinwari District, 54 years old)


“The people in my village have a quite poor knowledge of hygiene and have often suffered from diarrhoea and skin diseases. But Mullahs didn’t have enough knowledge either, so we couldn’t do anything about it. This training gave us much better information. I’ll surely tell the believers what
I learnt in this training, also ask them to tell their families for healthy life. I appreciate the extraordinary efforts of the local staff and overseas staff of JEN.” (Bagram District, 38 years old)


August 23, 2012 in Afghanistan |



     This fruit, covered with something which looks like chestnut bur or thick hair, is in season twice in Sri Lanka: from the end of June to August and from December to January. An office staff gave me some as there is a good crop this year.

     Do you know there is also a yellow variety, not only the red one? They are about the same size. Both are juicy and very tasty though, I feel like the red one tastes stronger.

     Several days later, the staff was absent from work for a few days due to coughing and a high fever. When I asked him how he was feeling after his getting better, he said, “I ate rambutans too much, that’s why I got a cold.” It is quite common to say in that manner in this country, isn’t it?

[Rambutan tree]

August 16, 2012 in Sri Lanka |

Quick snapshot of a come back

Only in Haiti, this board seen in Grand Goave says: “Cautious: we ask people to not “shit” aside the sea please”

I have crossed much tenser highway to hell than Haiti on earth. But this one remains peculiar and somehow quite stable… in its inimitableness.  Actually I do not know any other country where I could face, the same day, so many odd or funny stories to count. Perhaps is it one of the reasons I came back, while knowing that what is funny today will certainly become much more stressing in few months’ time, when I’ll be pessimistically desperate about any possibility of change in Haiti, as anybody does. Perhaps one of the chances of Haiti resides finally in its capacity of attraction of new people, over-motivated to help it, before they become cynical.

Nonetheless I could really not think about any other country in the world where, in less than 2 hours, I would have to manage our dog that caught a new house’s owner’s guinea fowl and the said owner whose the story makes laugh a lot fortunately; 2 slashes wheels on the same car at few minutes interval; a disappearing Internet to fix, the provider’s hot line being almost unable to propose another solution than plugging the modem ; the fridge being connected on a kitchen (that does not have water)’s plug  that does not work half of the day, when there is no city electricity, because “it’s not needed to have it working full day, it’s more important to have the TV”; and, finally, the safe’s key being handed-over by mistake to the former landlord instead of his house’s keys.

To conclude, another – already cynical - snapshot of what Haiti is, through the Olympic Games that are currently on-going while not really followed-up in here understandably: only 5 Haitian athletes participate to the Games. Four of them born, raised and still live and train in the USA.

August 16, 2012 in Haiti |


The festival to mark the opening of Ishinomaki port takes place; pause to pray for the repose of victims' souls and the restoration and then make a step forward.

The biggest event in Ishinomaki and its surroundings, "the memorial festival of the opening of Ishinomaki port" was held for two days from July 31 to August 1 at the central city street of Ishinomaki as its main venue. While the festival was forced to reduce its schedule and content due to the aftermath of the disaster, the street was alive with many citizens, visitors and volunteers.
It is a Buddhist service which used to be held in many areas for those drowned in rivers or seas that marked the beginning of "the memorial festival of the opening of Ishinomaki port" and has been held together with a fireworks exhibition to attract tourists since 1916. And it also expresses gratitude to old Mr. Mgobei Kawamura who first opened Ishinomaki port and formed the basis for its current prosperity and has a long tradition with this year marking its 89th anniversary of performance.

【A memorial service for the dead held in the evening of July 31】

【A bout 15,000 Lantern-offerings on the Kitakami River】

【The statue of old Mr. Magobe Kitamura at Hiwayama Park】

【Nakase Park where fireworks are to set off.】

A parade of primary school pupils' band of drums and fifes came back as part of the festival after a two-year absence and its lively sound resounded all over the town. The parade of three junior high-school brass bands started staging first at noon followed by the rank of spirited pupils of seventeen primary schools lead by Kadowaki primary school. As Kadowaki primary school has its schoolhouse burnt down by the ensuring fire right after the tsunami, it is giving classes at schoolrooms offered by Kadowaki junior high school. But with the support of music instruments from many supporters including JEN, the pupils of Kadowaki primary school overcame the disaster to show their lively faces in public.

Getting the parade of drum and fife band done successfully under the scorching sun, no doubt, the pupils will develop into attractive persons.

【The Kadowaki primary school drum and fife band marches at the head.】

【The drum and fife band of the Minato second primary school 】

In the evening, fireworks were set off to wish for the repose of victims' souls and recovery from the disaster by the old Kitakami River at the finale.

【Fireworks set off from the old Kitakami River】


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August 9, 2012 in Tohoku Earthquake |

Our Ex-Security Guard late Abdullah Noor

experience. We would call him by nickname ‘Mashar’ which means an elder person/senior. His jokes still sound in our ears. All these habits had made him unique to all the staff members. He joined JEN team last year and in a short time he started to live in He was punctual, dutiful, cooperative and friendly. He was beloved by everyone. He was honest to the extreme and used to advise us on different matters based on his everyone’s heart.


He would perform duty at JEN office in night shift. During quarantine period of goats we would send him to warehouse on special assignment because of his perfection in work.

He went to his home town on routine holidays on 30th June. Early in the morning, On 1st July he left for district Kohat voluntarily with a patient from his family on emergency basis. On the way to hospital, their vehicle unluckily had an accident with a truck from the opposite side. Because of no space inside the vehicle, he sat on the roof of it, which is normal in Pakistan. All his family members along with the patient received injuries. But the injuries of Abdullah Noor were deep and on his back head. He was instantly shifted to the hospital where he could not succumb to the injuries.

It was mountain heavy news for us, his family and his villagers. We all moved to his hometown and participated in his funeral prayers. He left 1 daughter, 4 sons, and a wife. He left this world but is alive in our thoughts. We remember him in special prayers. We feel him in the moments he shared with us; his jokes, his advises, on dining table and playing Ludo with us. May his soul be rest in peace!


August 9, 2012 in Pakistan |


Energy Drink

This time, I would like to share the story about people in the village. After the research at Kulipapa elementary school which was mentioned in the last entry, we had coffee and tea at the tea shop right by the school.

[left black tea, right coffee]

The owner of this outdoor tea shop is Ms. Esther, 28. She served us a glass of coffee for 2 pounds (about 60yen) and a glass of tea for 1 pound (about 30yen).

[Ms. Esther is making tea]

Ms. Esther is a mom of 3. Their dad had gone to Juba to find a job but it is not going very well that Esther has opened the tea shop by the school since this March.

Here is how she boils water with the equipment.

After the water is boiled with this kettle, she pours the hot water to used tea leaves in the strainer. When it comes to coffee, she brew with this pot and done. Sugar adds some flavor to it.

Why she opened the tea shop here is that there are more people who work at the construction site and also there are more houses have been built around the school that many people from the village pass by.

[people from the village taking a break at Esther’s tea shop]

At 6 in the morning, she takes an hour to get some water for her business, then open the shop around 8 and works until 4:30.

It has not decided yet whether a well will be built at this school, but if it ever happens, mom who works pretty hard like her would not have to take an hour to go all the way to get water. Also they can relax a bit more while raising 3 children.

[Esther, shared a story about her business as she caresses her child.]

Each of us had a cup of energy drink by Esther then took a bumpy road for 2 hours.

(Head of Juba Office, Shu NIshimaru)

August 2, 2012 in South Sudan |

Northern region: Meeting the users of wells repaired last year

From January to June 2011, JEN repaired and cleaned wells in Vavuniya district, Vavuniya County. This time, we monitored the condition of the wells and how the local residents were using them. Though we could check only a small portion of all 406 repaired wells, we were able to see how the wells were supporting the people’s lives.
Here is an example:

This man returned to his home in October 2010. Using water drawn from the repaired well, he grows a large field of peanuts. The peanut seeds were purchased from the government, and the harvest would be sold to the government at a fair price. Such arrangements are made to help individual farmers, whose sales prices are often beat down in the market.

It was the harvest season and there were loads of peanuts in the storehouse.

(There were enough peanuts to make a comfortable bed!)

This project was carried out with grant funding from JPF and our supporters. JEN continues to receive funding and maintains its activities in northern Mullaittivu district.

August 2, 2012 in Sri Lanka |

Connection to Haitian electricity network②

Knowing all these things for a while I had to truly experience it while connecting JEN Leogane office to the network.

As feared it took more than a month to get a technician on site to evaluate the length of the cable needed. Still we can consider ourselves lucky as being located in the heart of Leogane centre, right next to existing network!


EDH not having any cable in stock these days it is the owner of the house that had to buy the very expensive electric cable: 2.5USD/foot so 450USD in total for our office.

Added to the 250USD fee for subscription it is a total of 700USD to get connected to a network that provides electricity irregularly anyway…

Considering that this amount of money does represents up to 6 months of salaries for the rare lucky Haitians having a job it will for sure take a lot of time to change mentalities and make Haitians believe an understand that the best way to get a reliable network eventually is to start by stopping illegal connections.

Did I hear talking about vicious circle?

August 2, 2012 in Haiti |

Volunteers clean up the Shirahama beach, Kitakami Town, dreaming of getting a bathing resort back.

JEN rounded up volunteers to clean up the beach of Shirahama, Jyusanhama District, Kitakami Town, Miyagi Prefecture on August 18, 19, 28 and 29. While there were 28 bathing beaches before the disaster hit Miyagi prefecture, now bathing is possible only at the beach of Odanohama, Ooshima District, Kesennuma City. I heard that Odanohama was reopened as a bathing resort through local authorities', residents' and volunteers' great efforts on July 21.

(Related information: In the 22/7/2012 issue of The Kahokushinpou )

【Currently swimming is not allowed. 】

Large rubbles on the beach of Shirahama were removed but still litters were scattered here and there on it. A local fisherman who had worked on fishery assistance with us taught us about the dismal state of the beach of Shirahama. Some 20 volunteers joined us in cleaning up the beach every day from all over the country.

【Let's get started.】

【Many junior high and high school students volunteered for cleaning up the beach.】

【A junior high school student pushes a hand car】

【Raked rubbles】

【To make it easier to gather up rubbles, they were put in flexible containers. 】

We worked on this cleaning activity in close contact with the local authorities.
The Kitakami general branch office of municipal government is supposed to take on gathering up collected rubbles. There used to be forty families in Shirahama district, but all of their houses have been swept away by the tsunami.
The local authorities say that they are planning to start putting up a coast levee that is 8.4 meters high in January 2014 and opening the beach again for bathing is possible. With the hope of regaining vitality to the beach, we will continue cleaning activities by asking people such as children there for help.

【Once-crowded Shiroishihama. The number of sea-goers once peaked at over ten thousand a year 】

Photo: An excerpt from the city of Ishinomaki's website

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August 2, 2012 in Tohoku Earthquake |

The current issue 2 hours away from the capitol –Kulipapa Elementary School-

As we reported last time, we have started working on the water hygiene campaign in 10 schools in Juba County since July. First of all, we need to pick up 10 schools out of 140 schools in Juba County.  After interviewing authorities such as Education Bureau, we recognized 25 public schools that don’t have wells in the area except Juba city and its neighboring areas.

[JEN staff interviewing teachers]

The other day, we investigated Kulipapa elementary school which is one of those 22 schools.  Kulipapa elementary school is located 2 hours drive on a bad road from Juba city.  There are 90 students from 1st grade to 5th grade and they study from 8am to 2pm.  They don’t get school meals and they would eat after getting home after 2pm.  It takes an hour for some students to get to school.

[Kulipapa Elementary School]

As we were informed from the administration, this elementary school have neither a well nor a bathroom. There is only one well which is an hour away from them. Water to use at school is brought by the janitor once in the morning. But it’s only one plastic water container filled up for teachers. Children can’t use the water, drink it during a break or wash hands before class. They need to relieve themselves in the bush backside of the school.

[Children are playing on the school ground during a break]

This school used to be an open-air class until 2007. Then residents started working together to build 3 school buildings with soil walls and tin roofs.  This year, the government started building 2 school buildings with red bricks.  However, they haven’t got to installing a well or a bathroom.

[Red brick school buildings under construction]

Since it is close to Juba city, we thought people would leave for the town. In fact, people who couldn’t get a job eventually come back to farm. That results in having more students at the school.

[from left, Mr.Koronelion, Mr.Kenyi, Mr.Ladu]

When we dropped in at the classroom around noon, it was filled with energetic students even though they can’t drink water during a break.

*This project is conducted by Japan Platform and your support.

[Head of Juba Office, Shu NIshimaru]

August 2, 2012 in South Sudan |