Japan considers the future as post-disaster project ends

By Shinya Yawata
Posted Mar 19, 2013

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Japan are considering the next phase of a key project set up to help the most vulnerable following the country’s triple disaster two years ago.

The Isshoni Aruko (Let Us Walk Together) project provided relief and rehabilitation for vulnerable people, such as children, the elderly, disabled people and foreign migrants, in the wake of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear fallout.

At a recent decision of the project’s Steering Committee, it was decided to investigate next steps once the project concludes at the end of May 2013. Options include Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Communion in Japan) or its Tohoku diocese extending the project, closing it, or handing it off to a non-governmental organization.

Initially, the project distributed food items and other much-needed relief goods. Thereafter, the church worked with institutions for people with learning difficulties, helping them find new markets for their products, which included cookies, and ornaments made from silkworm cocoons and promoting their business around the church.

The Isshoni Aruko (Let Us Walk Together) project also supported foreign migrants to learn new skills and become self reliant. Some qualified as care-givers, others as English teachers thanks to the help they had been given.

The project continued to provide goods and services to elderly people in temporary housing units following extensive needs assessments. Project workers and volunteers provided exercise classes for the elderly, cooking classes, sewing classes and other activities.

Young people also benefited from the work of NSKK, with children enjoying extra-curricula learning and short-term off-site camps particularly for those affected by the nuclear power plant disaster.

In just two years, the project saw more than 7,000 people volunteer, including parishioners of NSKK churches, students of NSKK-affiliated colleges, pupils of NSKK-affiliated schools, parents of school pupils, friends of parishioners, and some non-Christians. Many returned to help again and again.

NSKK and the project team have expressed their appreciation to those who contributed financially or gave relief goods and who supported or in prayer.