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Nowruz Celebration in the Former Central Kurram District

In many regions of the world, New Year’s takes place on January 1st. However, there are various different New Year`s all around the world that are celebrated on different days in different ways. The Chinese Lunar New Year is a well-known New Year`s celebration, but there are many more New Year`s celebrated by different cultures, countries, and religions.

  Nowruz, also known as Persian New Year`s, is celebrated in different countries around the world. Although it originates in Iran, Nowruz has been celebrated in many communities. For people following some religions, this is a fun holiday, but for the Shi`a Muslims, it represents a holy day.

  Nowruz marks the start of spring, and the first day of the first month on the Iranian calendar. Family members come together and perform certain rituals. On the Gregorian calendar, it typically takes place on March 21st, or a day before or after that. This year, Nowruz was celebrated on the 21st of March, 2019.

  The main events of Nowruz are cleaning the house and shopping, and also visiting friends and family. Of the events, some unique ones include “Haft Seen”, “Haft Mewa (7 different types of nuts and dried fruits soaked in syrup)”, “Khoncha (traditional displaying method of seven dishes, placing wheat and barley dishes in the middle)”, “Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz (figure wearing bright red clothing and a hat, comes with Amu Nowruz and sings traditional songs while playing the tambourine)”, and “Kampirak (old man figure with a long beard, representing nature and grace, and conducts charity at various villages during the celebration)”. Some of them will be mentioned in this blog post.


“Haft Seen” is a very interesting custom, and represents the seven food items that start with the Persian letter “س” (S letter in English). This includes wheat, barley, samanu (a type of sweet pudding), apples, garlic, vinegar, gummy fruit, and spices from sumac plant fruit. Seven of these items are placed on the table and the family members sit around the table.

In Iran, the traditional emissaries for the celebration are “Amu Nowruz and Haji Firuz” and they appear in the streets to celebrate the new year.

“Amu Nowruz”delivers presents to children, similar to what Santa Claus does on Christmas. He is the husband of Nane Sarma, and they are only able to meet once a year, so the love story says.


This year`s Nowruz celebration took place in the Parachinar region. The Shi`a community of the Parachinar and Ali Zai regions celebrated Nowruz in the evening of March 21st, 2019. In the morning, most famous mosques put out a massive flag. Over a few thousand people celebrated Nowruz with religious virtue. The people of Parachinar visited various mosques and also family and friends as part of the celebration. Additionally, children purchase new clothing to celebrate this day. At home, various dishes are prepared and are offered to family and friends. Musicians perform songs to excite the people of the community for this special occasion.

  The local JEN staff members had a chance to eat several dishes offered at the nearest imambargah (holy place for Shi`a Muslims). Overall, the city was filled with happiness and festiveness during the entirety of Nowruz. The celebration lasted between 15 to 20 days.


April 26, 2019 in Pakistan |


Unexpected Snowfall Delays Progress

 JEN is currently providing WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) project aid to over 2300 households located in 28 regions of the world. The weather conditions in these regions this year are vastly different from before. The length of the snow season and the intensity of each snow storm from 2018 to 2019 have exceeded records from previous years. Because of this, our water supply plans and hygiene facility reconstruction plans have been greatly setback.


    In some of the villages, roads and trails became inaccessible due to the snow, as they became thin, slippery, and damaged overall. Access by car has become very dangerous due to the unfavorable road conditions, and as a result, many local JEN staff members walked to visit project participants and villages in the area, and walked to collect water samples as well. When the snowfall becomes too intense, the staff members have no other choice but to delay site visits.


    These conditions make it difficult to move on with the project, and therefore, although the project feels rewarding (even though it is difficult to conduct), the amount of work that has to be done after winter passes keeps increasing. However, one good thing has been that we have been given an extension to complete the project, thanks to JEN’s understanding of our situation. Additionally, after a thorough discussion with all of the local staff, we were able to sign contracts with 3 contractors for our water source reconstruction plans.


     The water source reconstruction plans have always been completed by the work of 3 contractors, each contractor doing a separate task. One contractor focuses solely on the reconstruction of the toilets. After that contractor is finished with their task, the plans are passed on to another contractor. The objective behind this approach is to maximize reconstruction efforts in the shortest amount of time. As of now, we predict that the reconstruction operations will be finished either in June or July of 2019, after Eid al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, and takes place on June 5th to June 7th).


      Additionally, the procurement of sanitation kits is in its final stages. The distribution of these kits will begin in a few weeks, and the local staff members are currently looking for a storage unit to store the kits and a security guard to ensure the safety of the kits until the time of distribution arrives. We hope to complete all of the projects we have planned without any further delays or setbacks.

April 18, 2019 in Pakistan |


Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture (Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association)

OBGYNs, nurses, midwives, nutritionists, dentists… From giving birth to raising children, families are supported by numerous professionals from different fields. If those professionals were to give out completely different advice on the same topic, how would the parents react? There would be lots of confusion and it may potentially lead to parents losing their confidence in raising children and increase stress levels ovrall.

              For example, studies on the methods for increasing parent`s confidence in child rearing and creating healthy child-parent attachment tendencies have been conducted from the field of clinical research specifically on breastfeeding and baby food, but professionals that are heavily involved in child birth and child rearing do not always have up-to-date information on new breastfeeding and baby food research findings. There also may be cases where professionals work based around outdated information from tens of years ago, which is often proven to be false and potentially detrimental to the mother and child.

              In order to combat this phenomenon, the Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association, with the support of JEN, hosted the Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in both Minamisouma-shi and Koriyama-shi this month.

              During this Training Session, two topics, Dietary Education for Mothers of Infants, and Nutrition for Infants During Times of Emergency, were covered. Some of the specific content covered during the session included:

  1. Understanding the possibility of misinterpreting the statement, “breast milk has no preventive properties regarding allergies” as “breast milk has no benefits to the immune system”

  2. Handling liquid milk for infants- keeping it at room temperature is okay, only if the temperature is between 15-25˚C and all the leftovers are discarded


Image from the Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture 1 (March 16th, 2019)


Image from the Multi-Disciplinary Cooperative Training Session in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture 2 (March 16th, 2019)


Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association`s official YouTube channel is now open!

Find videos on breastfeeding, carrying your baby on your back, and more here:



From 2016, as a partner of the General Incorporated Association, Fukushima Prefecture Midwife’s Association, JEN has been supporting the “Child-rearing by Midwives and Postpartum Mother and Child Support” efforts. The Fukushima Prefecture Midwife`s Association focuses on supporting parents of infants by removing the risk of isolation through interactions with professionals and other members of the community, and overall, raising their confidence in child rearing.

April 4, 2019 in Tohoku Earthquake |