Who would expect that Akiko Iwamoto’s delivery of a newsletter to a Tsunami survivor in Japan would be a life saver? According to Mr. Abe, the survivor, that knock on his door and the hand delivery of the Kizuna newsletter did “save his life.”
An AmeriCares partner in the Triple Disaster recovery, Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center, recently celebrated the 100th issue of the Kizuna Newsletter. The paper is hand delivered by volunteers every two weeks to 7,000 households (14,000+ individuals) who live in temporary housing. They receive not only important information about reconstruction, but also articles written by experts pertaining to their physical and psychological health.
The most important part of the project, however, as Mr. Abe will tell you, is the human connection. People who are the most vulnerable (elderly, disabled, impoverished) remain in temporary housing. They are lonely and often feel hopeless, but visits by the volunteers remind them that they are not forgotten.
At the celebration, Mr. Abe received a certificate of appreciation for his support of the project. He lost his eldest daughter and a grandchild in the tsunami. He told the audience that he had been “suicidal,” since the disaster, but when the editor of the Newsletter, Akiko Iwamoto, knocked on his door to deliver the newsletter in 2013, he “regained his faith in humanity.” He has been an advocate of the project for his city ever since.
In the long and complex road to recovery in Japan, Mr. Abe reminds us all that healing begins with hope.
For four years AmeriCares Japan team has worked from Sendai, filling crucial healthcare gaps. In collaboration with local communities and organizations, we have provided $8.8 million in support for 187 targeted projects that have helped more than 90,000 beneficiaries; the projects focused on mental health, dental health, people with disabilities, overall access to health care and support services. As we conclude our recovery work, we leave in place a network of ongoing community-based organizations and programs that will support these important services going forward.