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Partnerships with Japanese Organizations Strengthen Recovering Communities

August 22, 2013 — Our ongoing work in Japan focuses on families and individuals living in Fukushima Prefecture, an area of Japan heavily affected by the 2011 tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear accident, as well as the families that evacuated to neighboring Yamagata Prefecture. Together with partners Shapla Neer, IVY and The People, International Medical Corps is providing disaster survivors with places where they can receive psychosocial support and engage in community-building activities.

Shapla Neer (Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture)

The community space managed by Shapla Neer and International Medical Corps benefits approximately 3,500 people cumulatively per month. Named “Buratto” (meaning roughly “feeling free to visit”), the space offers visitors various activities and opportunities from monthly job-hunting consultations to art workshops to free health checks by volunteer nurses. Evacuated families residing in Iwaki City learn about services and events at the community space through its monthly newsletter.

IVY (Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture)

Since September 2012, International Medical Corps and IVY have been operating a daycare center in Yamagata City for the children of evacuee mothers from Fukushima who are seeking employment opportunities in their new community. The center provides full-time care for 40 children as well as lunch and snacks that are organic, chemical-free and Cesium-free. To address concerns about radiation exposure, daycare staff measure radiation levels in the soil before allowing children to engage in outdoor activities. The center also prioritizes the hiring of Fukushima evacuees as licensed caregivers.

The People (Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture)

The Onahama Networking Salon created by The People and supported by International Medical Corps serves the dual purpose of providing psychosocial support for disaster survivors and facilitating communication between longtime residents of Iwaki City and evacuee families. The community space offers an average of 14 handcraft workshops per month such as knitting, origami and accessory-making. The People also facilitates weekly reunion meetings at the space for evacuees originally from the same Fukushima hometown who are now living scattered and isolated within Iwaki City.