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Homecoming for Disabled Residents Separated by Tsunami

  • March 6, 2013

Group home destroyed by 2011 Japan disaster reopens tomorrow

Stamford, Conn. – March 6, 2013 – Japan tsunami survivors separated since the 2011 disaster will be reunited tomorrow with the opening of a new group home built by AmeriCares.

The opening ceremony for the Momiji group home in Ofunato City comes just days before the second anniversary of the disaster. Two years after the tragic earthquake and tsunami, an estimated 300,000 survivors are still living in temporary housing.

For the Momiji residents, five adult men with intellectual disabilities, tomorrow’s celebration marks the end of a stressful chapter in their lives. They have been living with elderly parents and other relatives ill-equipped to serve as caretakers, or in cramped temporary housing waiting to return home since their house was washed away.

“It’s been a difficult two years for the residents. They have been afraid to leave their temporary homes, or have been reliant on their families to meet their daily needs,” said AmeriCares Japan Country Representative Ramona Bajema. “By building a brand new home within walking distance of their jobs and shops, we are restoring their independence and alleviating a burden on their families.”

The project is a collaboration of AmeriCares, Taiyoukai Social Welfare Corporation and Association for Aid and Relief, Japan. AmeriCares awarded a $527,000 grant for the construction because the government would only fund a temporary facility which could have added to the residents’ stress and anxiety during an already difficult time. The prefectural government also wanted to build a larger facility, which Taikyoukai officials objected to, advocating that persons with disabilities fare better in homes with fewer than 12 residents.

AmeriCares tsunami relief program focuses on restoring access to health care services, providing counseling for survivors, assisting evacuees and supporting people with disabilities. To date, the global health and disaster relief organization has provided nearly $6 million in aid for survivors in Japan dealing with the stress of displacement and the trauma of loss. To read more about AmeriCares recovery work in Japan, go to our two-year report Aid to Japan: Investing in a Healthier Future 

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