Recovery assistance activities by JRCS branches and Red Cross volunteer corps
To help the survivors to recover their healthy and enjoyable lifestyles both physically and mentally as much as possible, Red Cross 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 JRCS 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.
Many activities are still continued. Here are some examples of Red Cross volunteer corps’ activities.
Activities by Kunimi Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
The Kunimi Red Cross Volunteer Corps is one of the most active Red Cross volunteer corps in Fukushima Prefecture. Their activities are extensive. They range from making small hanging hina dolls to making rice cakes and doll craft.
Activities by Fukushima Hokushin Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
The Hokushin Red Cross Volunteer Corp visits mainly Miyashiro Temporary Housing No.1 and No. 2 and Minamiyanome Temporary Housing. Their programs consist of Japanese tea ceremony, handcraft, yoga and recreation.
Activities by Kitakata Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
The Kitakata Red Cross Volunteer Corp visits temporary housing located in Aizuwakamatsu City to hold an entertainment event. They also organize an imoni-kai (a party of a large hot pot with taros and other ingredients) to invite the evacuees who live in private rental houses located in Aizuwakamatsu City and Kitakata City, which are rented by the prefectural government. The Kitakata Red Cross Volunteer Corps provides assistance on a continual basis.
Activities for beautifying communities with flowers [PDF]
Activities for beautifying communities with flowers include putting outdoor planters or planting flowers in flower beds at temporary housing sites and the local neighborhoods (e.g. areas near railway stations and shopping streets). Many Red Cross volunteer corps have this program as one of their recovery aid programs.
Interviews of the Red Cross volunteer corps
The Fukushima Chapter interviewed Red Cross volunteer corps members who have supported the survivors. They talked about their compassion for the survivors and how they felt during and after providing the activities. The summaries of the interviews are shared below.
Aizuwakamatsu Red Cross Disaster Prevention Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Iwaki Onahama Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Kawauchi Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Kitakata Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Kunimi Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Sukagawa Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Fukushima JRCS Retirees Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Nihonmatsu Iwashiro Red Cross Volunteer Corps[PDF]
Fukushima Hokushin Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Minamisoma Haramachi Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Miharu Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
Motomiya Red Cross Volunteer Corps [PDF]
The data about the activities of the Red Corps volunteer corps is summarized by period, each volunteer corps and group of beneficiaries. For the details, please click here.
Comment by Fukushima Chapter staff
The survivors who were forced to evacuate due to the earthquake may have lost family members, houses and workplaces. They were confused by the unfamiliar environments of the temporary housing which they had moved into. Even after four years and four months after the earthquake, people still do not have a prospect for when they will be allowed to return to their towns and villages. This is causing anxieties and mental stress in many survivors. Many survivors of the younger generation are living separately from their parents because of their children’s education or their jobs. They lived together in the same house before the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami but now live separately. This situation has increased the number of elderly households. This also makes the elderly survivors feel concerned about their lives and they now have fewer opportunities to go out. There are many survivors who feel reluctant to communicate with their neighbors and neglect taking good care of themselves since living in temporary housing.
There are still concerns that they will continue to live under such circumstances. Therefore, the Fukushima Chapter continues to organize the recovery assistance activities funded by international donations received from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Red Cross volunteer corps of each community take the initiative and they continue to provide activities in meeting rooms at temporary housing sites in each area of Fukushima Prefecture.
As the volunteers get older, it is becoming more difficult for the Red Cross volunteer corps to secure members who can provide assistance. However, they exercise creativity in trying to present interesting events in such difficult situations. We sincerely appreciate their efforts.
It was reported that the Red Cross volunteer corps’ assistance programs provided the opportunities for the temporary housing residents to get to know each other. Their activities also serve in assisting the forming of a community where the residents help each other. The change in the living environment has kept the elderly survivors from communicating with the local residents. The services and activities of the assistance programs which the elderly are able to perform with ease also solve the problem of isolation in the communities. They look forward to participating in the assistance programs. However, returning to their towns or villages is still far away from a realization for many of the residents. Therefore, we believe that it will continue to be necessary to provide them with psychosocial care and opportunities for communication.
During the assistance programs, the survivors smile and look cheerful all the time. The programs are very effective. On the other hand, the number of survivors living in temporary housing is decreasing and the Red Cross volunteer corps’ activities are also scaling back. However, since many of the people left are elderly survivors, we think that mid- and long-term assistance will need to be provided to contribute to the recovery of Fukushima.
The recovery assistance activities are actively provided by the Red Cross volunteer corps extensively in Fukushima Prefecture. However, it is also true that there are differences in the activities depending on the areas.
In FY 2014, activities were provided 134 times by 1,243 members. The number of beneficiaries was 4,248. The reported total cost for these activities was 4,159,654 yen (979 yen per beneficiary), which is not necessarily a large amount, but they are very cost-effective activities that are much needed by the evacuees.