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04/25/2013

Pakistani Traditional Costume, “Salwar Qameez”

It is a great pleasure to us, Pakistanis, to see JEN’s Japanese staff getting familiar with Pakistani culture. Today, I will introduce Pakistani traditional costume, “Salwar Qameez”. I did not have any special feelings toward this costume, but JEN’s staff of various nationalities wearing this costume looks very elegant indeed.
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“Salwar Qameez” has a history going back to the 12th century, the time of the Mughal Empire. Salwar Qameez itself is said to originate from clothes worn by the Turkic tribes, who led a life riding horses in the great plains of Central Asia. Most of these tribes converted to Islam.
Since the 12th century, this area had been frequently invaded from outside. Eventually, a regime by the Turkic Iranians (Delhi Sultanates, later taken over by the Mughal Empire) was established in the area of present-day North India and Pakistan.
As a result, Salwar came to be worn as a traditional costume. Nowadays, people of diverse religions, not necessarily Muslims, wear this costume in everyday life.
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Many people wear Salwar Qameez in South Asia. “Salwar” is a pair of loose pants and “Qameez” is a shirt with long sleeves. It is comfortable to wear and worn in everyday life as well as in the ceremonial occasions like funerals and weddings. Particularly in India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, it is commonly worn. The pants are loose around the hips like pajamas and tight around ankles.

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When women wear Salwar Qameez, they usually wear a long scarf or a shawl called “Dupatta” around their heads and necks. For Muslim women, Dupatta is a lighter alternative to Chador or Burqa.  For Hindu women, Dupatta is very useful when the head must be covered, as in a temple or in the presence of elders.  Dupatta is simple and stylish and can be simply worn over your shoulder or draped around your chest and over your shoulders.

I really hope you will have a chance to become familiar with this culture.

April 25, 2013 in Afghanistan |

Distribution of Shelter Repair Kits to the Returnees of Central Kurram Agency (FATA)

Military operation against the militants in Central Kurram Agency initiated in 2009 which resulted in massive internal displacement. According to authorities it was the largest ever conflict in the valley that caused such a huge displacement of people. Independent sources claim that more than 1 million people were displaced. Most of the IDPs were provided accommodation by the host community in several districts of the KP and Punjab province. Lots of the sufferers were settled in the emergency relief camps. Govt of Pakistan (FDMA) requested to the humanitarian community to come forward to address the needs of IDPs particularly those related to shelters.

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On request of Shelter cluster and FDMA, JEN initially agreed to provide 100 shelter repair kits and later extended to 145. The people, whose houses were partially or fully damaged, were not able to purchase and construct their houses provided Shelter Repair Kit. The project was sighing of relief to the people whose economic situation was not able to address their basic shelter needs.

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The MoU signed with the beneficiaries it was stated that JEN will transport the material to commonly accessible points. And further JEN provided tractor cart to carry the shelter material to their door step. However it ensured that the material was provided to the nearest point of construction so that it did not cost them any money. JEN and the beneficiaries mutually agreed that both said cooperation will be endorsed to complete the project successfully and in timely manner.

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Regular monitoring was carried out by project team in the field. The whole process was closely monitored by the Project Manager along with project team to ensure use of all provided shelter repair kits.

April 25, 2013 in Pakistan |

World Health Day

As an invitation of the MOE, we attended the celebration of the General Directorate of Physical Education/ Directorate of Environmental Education and school health for Annual festival on the level of Iraq on the occasion of World Health Day in Al- Najaf governorate from 8-11/4/2013. The theme for World Health Day 2013 is controlling high blood pressure, a condition which affects more than one in three adults worldwide and it is widespread in Iraq for different age groups. According to the announcement of World Health Organization that 50% of deaths caused by high blood pressure and there are four million infected with the disease in Iraq. The organization called Iraqis to improve their diet to prevent and control of high blood pressure, as a means of reducing the number of people affected.

[This photo about healthy food and its influence on human's body]
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The General Directorates for Education presented their activities throughout the festival as well as sketches and an exhibition of drawings by students about hygiene and health and preservation of the environment.

[This photo about a play by the students of Baghdad/Risafa 3 DOE … named “The enemy friend”( which means the food salt)]
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[This photo about a play by Ninewa DOE named (Charged in our house) “ trial for blood pressure”]
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Dr. T praised a role of JEN for raising awareness among pupils about the importance of hygiene and attention to health in his speech at the opening of the festival.

[JEN stuffs with some responsible employees from DOEs of Diala, Kirkuk and Babil  of environmental education  and health school]
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Bassim Yousef Jacob
(Program officer)

April 25, 2013 in Iraq |

04/18/2013

Safe Water for Community, Income for Hand Pump Mechanics

JEN reported the beneficiary of “Lainya Hand Pump Mechanic Association” on 21st March 2013. Last week, JEN had a wrap-up meeting with the Association as a final meeting with them.  Through the meeting, I realized that the Association was deepening their connection with communities having boreholes, and with Rural Water Department, Lainya County. The members are generating income from not only repairing work, but also work of preventive operation and maintenance.

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Then, I interviewed one of the members as below.   

“My name is Juma Martine. I am a member of Lainya Hand Pump Mechanic Association. My Boma is Lukurubang under Lainya Payam, Central Equatorial State, South Sudan. I am 30 Years old and married with 5 Children. Before I joined Lainya Hand Pump Mechanic Association, I was a volunteer hand pump Mechanic in Lainya Payam.

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As a member of this Association, I am proud to mention that, my skills have been improved through trainings organized by JEN. I was made to know some of the hand pump Mechanics in the County whom I did not know before. I have access to knowledge sharing and information. My services as a hand pump Mechanic is recognized by my Community. Community now gets 24/7 water supply.

I am now able to get support from the Community which enabled me to pay the school fee of my Children and my family demands!!  Life is made easier than previous. Thanks and appreciation to the Japanese people for their greater support to this project and more others in south Sudan.”

JEN is to complete its support to the Association in May. However, I believe the association can continue long and people in Lainya can continuously drink the safe water.

April 18, 2013 in South Sudan |

Well Repair Training Course Completed

In South Sudan, many people rely on water from wells. However, quite a few wells remain damaged.

In many developing countries, fetching water from wells is considered work for women and children. Plastic containers holding about 20 liters, called “jerry cans”, are used to carry drinking water. They are carried by hand or on one's head, one or two at a time, which amounts to 20 to 40 kilograms.

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When women and children go to fetch water with their sisters and friends, a crowd of yellow and white jerry cans forms around the well in no time, and they will have to wait to take turns. While children in junior high and the upper grades of elementary school work the hand pump at a steady rhythm, younger children play with it, hanging from it with all their weight. For children with few means of entertainment, the water well seems to serve as a good playground.

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A properly installed pump moves easily, but when parts wear down or children keep hanging from it and put it under unusual pressure, it becomes harder to work, and could cause damage. Once a well breaks down, it is often abandoned and unrepaired, usually because there are no spare parts, no funds for reparation, or nobody with knowledge of fixing it.

When a well in the neighborhood is damaged, women and children may have to walk for several kilometers to reach distant wells and rivers. Moreover, water in the rivers is not suited for drinking, and may cause diseases. If damaged wells can be repaired quickly, people will be able to keep drinking clean and safe water, and it will also lessen the burden of household chores for women and children.

JEN assisted with digging wells in Juba’s school premises last year, but in order for local residents to be able to fix wells once broken, we held training courses of well reparation. Schools in South Sudan do not have along the ground peripheries, so local people living nearby come and use the well.

The training course lasted for ten days, including on-site training using an actually damaged well.
The photo below captures the ceremony held on the final day, giving out certificates of completion of the course.
Every participant looked so proud to receive his/her certificate for acquiring the skills of well reparation.

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April 18, 2013 in South Sudan |

Telecommunication System in Sri Lanka

“Phones cannot be reached due to heavy rain”
“We can’t answer emails as there is no internet connection due to heavy rain."

This is a true conversation that happens in Sri Lanka...at least in our JEN office. These are actual messages we Colombo office received from our offices in Vavuniya (Northern area) and Batticaloa (Eastern area). "Not again..." We often get disappointed as it happens so often during the rainy season.

At Colombo office, telecommunication network works relatively well, and I don’t recall any telephone network trouble, however, many times due to heavy rain, Internet and TV network get cut off.

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“Heavy rain” in Sri Lanka is much lighter than typhoons in Japan. I realize how telecommunication system in Japan is well developped as we can watch live reporting of typhoon on TV.

As I’m writing this blog, here comes another heavy rain with thunder! There might be a blackout as it gets stronger, so I will call it a day now.

April 18, 2013 in Sri Lanka |

"Come, join our fishery event: harvest, taste wakame, shrimp!" takes place

The second "Come and join our fishery event" was organized by a fishery community in Higashihama and held with help from JEN at Higashihama on the Oshika Peninsula for two days starting from April 13.
This event, born out of an idea of fishermen in Higashihama, is to help drive their reconstruction effort through a hands-on experience tour that introduces people across the country enjoying Higashihama's rich four seasons throughout the year.
The youngest participant in the current event was a girl aged only four.

【The Kitsunezaki fishery center, it's where participants stay for two days.】
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On the first day, participants had an opportunity to experience gillnetting fish at Makinohama. First they went out on a boat led by two local fishermen, then draw up a gill net pre-laid at the bottom of the sea.

【Will mantis shrimp be caught in the net?】
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The net was 75 meters long. They managed to haul up the net shouting "Terrific!, It's really heavy!" It was then...

【...Come on! Mantis shrimp! ...that they found a mantis shrimp caught in the net.】
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The net caught a mantis shrimp they were looking for and they shouted for joy!

【This many fish catches!】
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Although they had only one mantis shrimp due to a lower temperature, they hauled up netted fishes one after another including flatfish, crabs, dark sleepers and so on, enjoying their first experience of gillnetting fish. After getting ashore, they also had a go at cooking fishes they caught for their dinner. They, being taught how to cook by the local fishermen and their wives, struggled with making dishes of flatfish sashimi (thinly-sliced fresh raw fillet of fish), dark sleeper namerou (raw fish thinly sliced and mixed well with miso and chopped finely with a knife) and so on.

The wives of the fishermen brought their favorite local dishes for the participants. Don't you think it makes everything taste better to eat fish of your own netting and cooking? The fish that you netted and cooked for yourself is especially delicious.

【Bottoms up! They had an exciting party.】
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On the second day, they experienced harvesting wakame seaweed at Sudachihama.
"Zowie!, Great!" They were thrilled by their first sight of wakame farming rafts.

【Original wakame, a sight to see!】
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The truth is, the spring-shaped thing you can see at the top of the wakame, being chopped into pieces, makes mekabu, popular food available in packs at stores. While surprised by that never-seen-before shape, they had an enjoyable experience in harvesting wakame.

【They are caught up in harvesting wakame.】
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For lunch, they had shabu-shabu-style cooked wakame fresh from the sea under the blue sky (shub-shub: thinly sliced meat boiled quickly and dipped in sauce).

【When you put brown mekabu into hot water…】
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【It turns fresh green.】
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They also enjoyed other delicious dishes that all featured fresh wakame, including boiled rice with mekabu mashed until it became sticky on it, miso soup with mekabu in it and so on.
After two days of enjoyable experience, JEN could hear each participant giving their positively-phrased impressions on this event as "'I want to come back.', 'I'll tell people what I've learned in Higashihama or Ishinomaki when I get home.', 'I'll remember fishermen whenever I eat wakame or oysters.'"

At seeing the people of Higashihama exchanging with the participants under the good weather, JEN now has renewed its determination to continue to support them in enriching their new event.

Don't miss the next event!

【JEN is now accepting donations for the reconstruction of Tohoku. Your help would be very much appreciated.
DONATE HERE(
http://www.jen-npo.org/en/contribute/index.php)】

April 18, 2013 in Tohoku Earthquake |

04/11/2013

Humanitarian Situation Report Pakistan

Since mid-March, about 50,000 people have been displaced from the Maidan area in the Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency, FATA, due to escalation of hostilities between rival armed groups. Displaced people have moved to different locations in KP and FATA including New Durrai camp at Kurram Agency, Togh Sarai camp at district Hangu, Jalozai camp at district Nowshera and districts of Kohat & Peshawar.

Government officials estimate that up to 60,000 people (10,000 families) may leave the conflict-affected area in the near future and remain in displacement for up to six months due to security concerns.

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There has been insecurity in FATA during the last decade, with displacements and returns occurring in parallel in different agencies of FATA since 2008. Humanitarian partners are providing assistance to 163,102 displaced families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and FATA with an estimated population of 978,000 individuals, including 757,996 people who are already registered and those whose registration is under verification by the Government.

There are also 1.64 million Afghan refugees receiving humanitarian assistance, and more than 1.3 million people who have returned to FATA since 2009, who require humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian partners are providing one-month food rations and relief items to IDPs in the existing camps and off-camp locations regardless of their registration status, as agreed by all humanitarian stakeholders. Humanitarian partners and government have distributed cooked food, ration, NFIs, transportation and healthcare.

JEN is one of the NGOs which are very active for IDP response. Since 2011 JEN is engaged in D I Khan with the IDPs of South Waziristan and providing them assistance according to JEN’s mandate of self reliance. In addition JEN is working in FATA for those communities who were IDPs and after the situation became positive they have returned to their places of origin but their situation is not good. 

JEN will continue supporting the displaced communities in the future.

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April 11, 2013 in Pakistan |

We continue our activities hoping for peace though security situation is not stable.

We still implement rehabilitation work at the Al-Badia school in Baghdad, where we introduced on 28 February here. 

The main issue that affects the work at school is the security situation. That’s led to some days we cannot reach the school even the contractor and the materials could not supplied at site in due time because the school was surrounded by a concrete block to prevent from the bomb explosion.

Iraq's deadliest day in last six months came on the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein taken place on March 19, 2013. Up to 60 people have been killed in a series of car and suicide bombings mainly in several areas in and around Iraq's capital, Baghdad.

The country remains volatile, and disputes with the autonomous Kurdistan Region over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk have threatened to derail progress towards political stability.

To implement our work, JEN engineer as well as the contractor received huge help from the headmistress assistant and she appreciated the work and did following up the work to improve the quality.

<Discussing among Headmistress assistant, JEN engineer and the contractor>
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JEN also conducts hygiene trainings at school for students after providing training for teachers. Children learn the methods of protecting themselves from infectious disease. They also appreciate the hygiene materials and kits provided by JEN.

<Students at school yard>
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This project is being executed thanks to the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, all our members and contributors.
JEN Engineer Hamoody

April 11, 2013 in Iraq |

Surkh Parsa district targeted schools SMCs Tripartite agreement with JEN

As JEN engineering team decided have mission to Surkh Parsa district for mobilization and to Share list of construction projects with District governor and DoE officer.

During our visit with DoE representative for tripartite signing they had warm welcome to us and were very happy to have JEN’s construction projects beside Hygiene education in Surkh Parsa district, they really promised us for good cooperation and coordination with JEN and call to JEN that don’t be hesitate for any kind of cooperation from their side.
We have sign tripartite with targeted school’s SMCs, we had explained JEN vision, mission and goals of JEN and they had long discussion and information sharing with JEN team and said that we have lots of school construction problems and suggested JEN to provide assistance in this regards.

They had suggestion to hire community residents as labors in JEN’s construction projects, because they are vulnerable and don’t have any other source of income, JEN team said that we discussed with construction companies to hire community residents as skill and unskilled labors to have capacity building and community contribution.
JEN team emphasized and said clearly in every SMC meeting that the land which you are provide for school building construction the location must not have conflict on land and when we completed the school building construction and handover projects  to DoE after six month warranty SMC is responsible  for operation and maintenance of the construction projects .
All of them appreciated JEN WASH, Non WASH and HE program in Surkh Parsa and promised that they will help and assist JEN in the term of construction activities.

【JEN team members during SMC meeting for tripartite agreement in Surkh Parsa district.】
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【 SMC meeting with JEN staff for tripartite agreement in Surkh Parsa district.】
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【 SMC meeting with JEN staff for Construction Company introduction and tripartite agreement in Surkh Parsa district.】
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【 JEN staff while having meeting with SMC for Construction Company introduction and Tripartite.】
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Eng. Shir Ali Chief Engineer / JEN-Afg

April 11, 2013 in Afghanistan |

Tulips thriving on in Kamikama Freiendship Park!

It won't be long before the tulip buds bloom that had been planted in the flowerbed within Kamikama Friendship Park in the city of Ishinomaki. The pines and other plants in the park have been cut down because the tsunami triggered by the Tohoku earthquake had ravaged the park and caused them to die. That got the park deserted. JEN was not able to stand by this situation and so worked on creating a flowerbed in the park and planting 10,000 tulip bulbs in the flowerbed with the help of about seventy people including local residents and volunteers from across the country last October. There was concern that those tulip bulbs may be harmed by salt in the soil of the flowerbed, because the soil was polluted by tsunami brought seawater. Despite the concern, they are growing well in the sun under beautiful spring weather.

【Lushly thriving tulips!】
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They also planted azalea, the flower that symbolizes the city of Ishinomaki.
I wonder it would be a long time before these flowers start blooming like they used to?

【Azaleas are also asserting themselves.】
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In the flowerbed, weeds were beginning to sprout on account of beautiful weather. JEN is going to clear those weeds with help of local residents on April 18. JEN is accepting volunteers who can help us with weeding. Anyone who is interested is urged to join JEN's activity.

【Many people can't wait to enjoy the opening of the tulips in the flowerbed near the gate to the park.】
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The tulips are expected to be in full bloom around the time of Golden Week holidays. JEN hopes those who helped us with planting the tulip bulbs before come to Ishinomaki and enjoy the beauty of the flowers in all glory.

【JEN is now accepting donations for the reconstruction of Tohoku. Your help would be very much appreciated.
DONATE HERE

April 11, 2013 in Tohoku Earthquake |

04/04/2013

Supporting Each Other Every Day

During the latest months, I have been supervising some projects as the only Japanese staff stationed in Sri Lanka.

I started to take part in project management besides the general affairs and accounting which I had already been doing. There are a lot of things that I do not know or understand clearly, so every day I learn different things from the local staff.
The tasks are new and am eager to learn, but as a result, of course my workload has doubled.

However, as I go on living such busy days, I can notice more than usual that the people around me support me tremendously.
For example, one of my friends contacted me, “You sounded sick when we talked on the phone yesterday. I can take you to the hospital because I am off work today.”
Another friend offered me, “Don’t worry, I will introduce you an expert in my office,” when I had some trouble on my management of the project.
My parents said to me, “Today we sent you some Japanese food. Please enjoy it until you come back to Japan next time.” Trying to hide their anxiety for me, they cheer me up.
The staff of the main office told me, “The new project got good remarks and many 'like's', not only on the webpage but on facebook as well!”
I am very encouraged by everyone.

One instance that made me happiest was an e-mail one local staff sent another local staff. I would like to keep the details  to myself, but that was when I felt that staff grow and develop by watching how their senior staff work.
I want to grow with them and aim to make our projects much better.

April 4, 2013 in Sri Lanka |

Greek pianist Panos Karan visits Ishinomaki

Panos Kanon has joined with JEN in implementing assistance activities in Tohoku since the disaster.
On March 25 this year, he arrived in Ishinomaki and left the next day. It was his fourth visit to Ishinomaki on his music outreach tour in Japan.

【Panos Karan is pictured right. His friend, flutist Zach Tarpagos, also participated in his tour this time.】
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He expressed his thoughts as "I'd like to let survivors know that the world will not forget Tohoku." During his two-day concert tour at five places including temporary housing and local community places, he fascinated his audience with a gentle, soothing melody yet with great verve,

【Ladies respond to Panon Kanran's excellent performance with a smile.】
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As was an expression of welcome to his concert held at Ogihama Elementary school of five pupils in the Oshika Peninsula, the moment he entered the school building, the curtain went up and all of the pupils surprised him with their powerful rolling of taiko---Japanese drum. 
Mr. Panos Karan got such a pleasant surprise that he gave an involuntary cry "Sugoi!! ( 'Great playing' in Japanese)."

【Exciting rolling of taiko can be heard!】
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His concerts drew many community people, who enjoyed not only his playing but fooling or sharing a laugh with him after the concert,

【The audience at N's-SQUARE(Kanomata, Ishinomaki city) enjoyed a performance in a relaxed environment.】
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Everybody who listened to his performance expressed their hearty thanks to him. A participants said to him "'I've been feeling depressed but your music has relieved my worries.', 'I was really touched by your music. Thank you for playing.'"
That two-day concert tour gave us a new appreciation for the power of music.
At the end of the tour, Panos Karan described his feelings as "I've got to love Tohoku. I'll have to make hundreds of visits in the future."
JEN is committed to continuing its efforts to restore peace of mind to disaster victims.

【JEN is now accepting donations for the reconstruction of Tohoku. Your help would be very much appreciated. DONATE HERE

April 4, 2013 in Tohoku Earthquake |

A very sad story!

His name is G., he is a Haitian and has worked for JEN Haiti as a day guardian for almost 3 years.

G. is originally from a remote rural area of the southern peninsula where there is simply no access to education or work.

Arrived in Port au Prince as a young adult attracted like so many others by the lights and the supposed attractive employment activity of the capital he joined the enormous crowd of provincial stuck in the capital, surviving no matter what, taking life one day after the other.

Not really strongly built he always has been more or less sick while working with JEN the past 3 years but he never wanted to get any proper medical check in MSF (Doctors without borders).

Instead he used his paid holidays and his little money to get to private hospitals without telling anybody each time he felt too bad.

When he got into coma for the first time beginning of March the other guards and the drivers of Port au Prince’s office finally told me they suspected him to carry “the virus”.

Rarely named aloud, AIDS is still a disease people are ashamed of in Haiti… meeting his wife a bit later on, obviously contaminated as well, did unfortunately confirm the diagnosis.

G, once out of coma, still kept denying his sickness, blaming instead some voodoo curse.
From this moment he took all the wrong decisions, spending all his money in voodoo priests and some ancient rituals for which he of course had to pay again.

Expelled from his rented flat by the owner as soon as that one realized his renter had AIDS, G. ended up in “Shalom church”, a huge kind of paying no man’s land where thousands of people gather every day, expecting a miracle for them or their families.

It is where we finally found him after chasing him around the city for 2 weeks. He was in a very poor condition, lying on a dusty platform of concrete with hundreds of people more or less in the same condition.

I wish I’ve never been there honestly… in the other hand it was there we met the older brother of G., a decent man also trying to survive in Port au Prince jungle and taking care of his dying brother’s little 3 years old boy.

Understanding perfectly the situation he immediately agreed on the urge to test the child and register him in one of the numerous free AIDS Care Center that exist in Haiti if it is confirmed he’s infected too.

This is probably the saddest part of this story! G. could have benefit from free treatment if only he hadn’t denied his contamination!

How many other Haitians are in the same case?

How many more will die in unbelievable pain because of ignorance and fear of stigmatization and discrimination?

Romain

April 4, 2013 in Haiti |

Life from the Nile

The Nile running through South Sudan is approximately 6650km in length, making it one of the longest river in the world.

For a country whose infrastructure is still underdeveloped, the Nile is not only their water source but also one of their transportation means.

The river is also a source of refreshment and relaxation for us, with its beauty of mother nature.

 
People going down the river. There are people carrying large amounts of mangos crossing from the other side of the river.

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Fruits grow along the river. April is the mango season and the riverside is filled with the fruits. Sometimes you can see guava trees too. The fresh fruits are very flavorful and pease people’s appetite.

[Mangos]
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[Guavas]
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Just outside the center of Juba, you can start seeing wild life. You can see beautiful birds and even alligators.

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Even at JEN’s office in Juba, we used to add chlorine tablets in the water of the Nile to use as daily water. The water is clear during the dry seasons, but during the rainy seasons the water becomes turbid and is troublesome. Light colored clothes become brownish every time you wash. (Recently at last, purified water is becoming available so laundry is improving but it is still inconvenient compared to Japan)

 
By spending such days, we realize and learn a lot of things from the Nile. You really appreciate having clean water and well-constructed roads, things you take for granted in Japan. Appreciating life from the beautiful land, I want to continue our activities cherishing each and every day.

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【DONATE HERE 

April 4, 2013 in South Sudan |