－ Five years later －
Five years have passed in March 2016 since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident (Fukushima Daiichi accident) occurred. While we hear and see positive news about the recovery in the affected areas, nearly 100,000 Fukushima citizens are still evacuated from their homes, living in or outside of Fukushima Prefecture.
Funded by the international donations from other sister Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, the Fukushima Chapter of the Japanese Red Cross Society (Fukushima Chapter), which is located in Fukushima Prefecture affected by the earthquake, the tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi accident, has been providing various recovery programs. The recovery assistance is continuing to be provided by the staff of the Fukushima Chapter, the staff of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) city/town/village branches and Red Cross volunteer corps members in Fukushima Prefecture with the cooperation of related organizations/groups.
For the 5th anniversary, we organized and summarized the reasons why these activities were necessary, how they started and what kind of challenges emerged while providing these activities, as well as the data for the programs.
We hope that this information will not only help the JRCS staff but also other people who are engaged in assisting Fukushima, our sister Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other relevant parties who are preparing for nuclear disasters which might occur in the future to think about recovery assistance.
Recovery program by Fukushima Chapter
Based on the results of need surveys from the survivors and the affected municipalities that the Fukushima Chapter started to conduct shortly after the complex disaster, the chapter set several core assistance areas: health enhancement; rebuilding lives; and educational support. The Fukushima Chapter has provided the recovery programs in these areas for the survivors ranging from children to elderly people with the cooperation of Red Cross volunteers and related groups/organizations.
The Fukushima Chapter will continue to provide assistance for the survivors focusing on physical and mental health enhancement with help from relevant people.
In addition, we hope that more people will learn about the current situation of Fukushima Prefecture and the efforts that the Fukushima Chapter and the Red Cross volunteer corps are making and join supporting the survivors.
The Fukushima Chapter provides physical and mental health enhancement programs for the survivors.
Red Cross Health Class （FY 2011 - present）
The elderly people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi accident are experiencing a prolonged evacuation and/or living an inconvenient lifestyle in temporary housing. This has caused great concerns about their physical and mental health. In order to help to prevent disuse syndrome and need for nursing care or to alleviate isolation due to the changed environment and disrupted hometown communities, the Fukushima Chapter gives health classes to the elderly survivors.
Red Cross First Aid Course （FY 2011 - present）
Due to the prolonged evacuation after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the worsening or development of disuse syndrome and life-style related diseases is a concern. The Red Cross First Aid Courses are provided for the survivors who are living in temporary housing or private rental houses rented by the prefectural government and people who experienced the evacuation. The provision of the courses is aimed at learning how to prevent these diseases, how to use an AED, and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Red Cross Health Lecture （FY 2011 - FY 2013）
In Fukushima Prefecture, many people were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and forced to evacuate due to the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Furthermore, many of Fukushima citizens are concerned about possible effects on their health from radioactive materials. In order to provide them with knowledge about radiation and contribute to disease prevention and health enhancement, the Fukushima Chapter organized and held the Red Cross Health Lectures given by an expert and physicians.
Community reunion event for evacuees （FY 2012 - present）
Many of the evacuees are living in temporary housing or private rental housing rented by the prefectural government. They are living scattered inside or outside of Fukushima Prefecture. That means the evacuees are living in areas which are unfamiliar to them and thus, there is little communication with their new neighbors and communities. They are concerned about their future. Furthermore, they have very few opportunities to see their friends and neighbors of their town where they once lived due to the sudden evacuation. From this background, the Fukushima Chapter has organized and held community reunion events to provide opportunities for the evacuees to reunite and regain the relationship they used to enjoy before the earthquake. The municipal governments of the evacuees cooperate in holding the reunion events.
Health enhancement program for the survivors （FY 2012 - present）
The Fukushima Chapter provides the survivors living in temporary housing or private rental houses rented by the prefectural government with social events such as Red Cross Ground Golf Classes and Red Cross Nordic Walking. The purpose of the events is to compensate for a lack of exercise, release physical and mental stress and enhance their health.
The Fukushima Chapter supports building livelihoods, which is necessary for the survivors to regain their lifestyles and rehabilitate their communities.
Recovery assistance activities by JRCS branches and Red Cross volunteer corps （FY 2011 - present）
To help the survivors to recover their healthy and enjoyable lifestyles both physically and mentally as much as possible, JRCS city/town/village branches and Red Cross volunteer corps in Fukushima Prefecture visit the survivors at temporary housing. They provide hands-on activities for the survivors to support them and help revitalization of their communities. This program started in FY 2011 and is still operating. The activities are provided by each city/town/village branch and Red Cross volunteer corps. The activity programs include patchwork classes, craft classes, health classes, cooking classes, making hot meals, and activities for beautifying communities with flowers. All programs offered are hands-on programs.
Events for encouraging Fukushima citizens （FY 2012 - FY 2014）
There were many survivors who were concerned about their physical and mental health due to effects from the Fukushima Daiichi accident and the inconvenient lives in temporary housing. Being moved by live music, shedding tears or laughing by watching a movie were believed to be important to their physical and mental well-being. Based on this concept, the Fukushima Chapter organized and held 20 events for the survivors from FY 2012 to FY 2014.
In order to contribute to creating the foundations for children who will bear the next generation, the Fukushima Chapter provides educational support programs. They offer items and places for education and assurance which were lost due to the earthquake.