Mental Care / Spiritual Support
Touhoku HELP since its establishment has had as its primary ambition to at the very least provide care to those affected by these disasters.
Touhoku HELP was established on March 18 last year being just seven days after the earthquake struck.
Initially we were holding weekly “General Meetings.” At the second of these on March 25, it was proposed and agreed that Touhoku Help should start tackling its first major project.
Since its establishment Touhoku HELP has been directly involved in the distribution of goods and supplies to the disaster affected communities. Through the Church working together with Temples and local welfare commissioners, we made every effort to provide truly needed supplies to those communities in need.
One week after we commenced these activities, at the meeting held on March 25, many attendees gave reports on the help able to be provided to “the survivors” of these disasters. While all of these reports brought us joy and lifted our spirits, it was also pointed out that there was a lack of care for and proper respect being paid to “the deceased.”
The tsunami washed away everything in its path without regard for human life resulting in many missing or dead. On March 18 in the tsunami affected areas, there were still an uncountable number of bodies out in the open or buried beneath the mud and debris that had yet to be properly cared for.
As a Christian group we only had in mind one basic philosophy which would guide our future activities. This was to place a priority on providing care to “Each and every person who has lost their voice.”
This applied most to those unfortunate souls who perished in these disasters and will “Never speak again.”
This point was raised at the General Meeting held on March 25 and resulted in a call to action to Touhoku HELP. As a result we decided to provide “Care for those who passed” and our administrative office immediately began to implement concrete measures to care for and respect the deceased.
This resulted in two positive outcomes.
The first was to provide support for the holding of funeral services as described in detail on Touhoku HELP's website.
Secondly was the establishment of the “Counseling Room”. Through the participation of Touhoku HELP, as a listening focused project supported by persons of all religions and faiths we launched our own radio program, telephone counseling service, and continues to host community cafe events. This project still continues to date. (For details, search “Sendai” and “Counseling Room”. This site includes recordings of past radio broadcasts as well as information on past, present and future activities.)
Presently within the disaster affected areas a pressing major issue is the provision of “Mental Care” and “Spiritual Support.”
Although soon it will be one year since the disasters, the passing of time has only exacerbated the need for mental care and support.
Touhoku HELP is committed to facing this challenge head on.
At this time it is important to recognize the links between “Material” and “Mental” support. Providing “Items from the heart” is often the first step to “Mental Care.”
As an example of the above I would now like to talk about one of the support activities that Touhoku HELP was fortunate enough to participate in. This was the “New Years Deluxe Boxed Meal Provision” project.
While we may think that there isn't much we can do, through our prayers, wishes and hopes all things are possible. This was evidenced in the success of the “New Years Deluxe Boxed Meal Provision” project as outlined below.
New Year Deluxe Boxed Meal (Makunouchi Bento) Home-Delivery
On January 3, with the support of “Wakabayashi Help” and their volunteers at three temporary housing communities, including the “Higashi-dori” temporary housing community, we were able to deliver free “Makunouchi Bento” to those living in these communities.
For Japanese this is similar to receiving a real Christmas lunch or dinner on Christmas day.
This was a project planned by the Representative of Touhoku HELP, Takashi Yoshida (The Reformed Church in Japan, Sendai Church, Pastor).
As Touhoku HELP considered “How it could help in even the smallest way those displaced by these disasters who were struggling to maintain a normal life?” together with Mr. Kurosu, the director of Wakabayashi Help and in cooperation with Plenus Co., Ltd. (Hotto Motto) a subsidized “Obento” boxed meal service was launched last October.
For Japanese the New Year’s meal is similar to a western family’s Christmas dinner. Touhoku HELP was happy to be able to provide a deluxe boxed meal with a variety of traditional dishes that provided at least a little bit of cheer during the holiday season.
We selected the deluxe boxed meal with a retail price of 680 yen, and ordered 147. Those delivered included a New Years Greeting from “Everyone from The Sendai Christian Alliance Disaster Relief Network (Touhoku HELP)”. In this way Touhoku HELP was able to establish contact with the senior citizens living alone in the “Higashi-dori” and, “Shichigo Chuo Koen” temporary housing communities as well as the “JR Apartment Complex”. Many of those senior citizens rely on meal delivery services. Touhoku HELP would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all those who delivered these New Year meals to the senior citizens living alone, the community association leaders and security guards working on that day to support those communities.
The community association’s chairperson Mr. Ohashi together with Mr. Kurosu handed out these meals to those living in the Higashi-dori temporary housing community. Mr. Ohashi said “Mr. Kurosu we are truly grateful for all of your efforts since these disasters happened.”
Mr. Kurosu replied that “From the time these disasters occurred and we started relief work in the evacuation centers I consider myself to be lucky to have been able to build a number of new friendships based on mutual trust and respect. You are not only a friend but a person who has supported all the activities of Wakabayashi Help.”
While the regular “Subsidized Meal Service” was temporarily suspended over the New Year holiday period, (As previously advised on our website) it recommenced from January 5. This is a subsidized home delivery meal service for those in temporary housing or those otherwise eligible.
Touhoku HELP provides a subsidy of 100 yen per meal and Hotto Motto has discounted the regular price by 50 yen with the person ordering paying the remainder. Through this system we believe that we will be able to provide this service on a sustainable basis.
From the launch of the “Subsidized Meal Service” the number of persons receiving this service has risen from 200 to 500 persons per month.
Touhoku HELP hopes that as many as 1,000 persons will be able to enjoy this “Subsidized Meal Service” in the future. Touhoku HELP is promoting this service through advertising in Sendai’s local magazine and other media with the hope of providing healthy, balanced and nutritious home-delivered meals to those “Truly in Need”.
In addition Touhoku HELP as another part of its temporary housing community support activities, on January 26 at the Wakabayashi Bunka Hall will hold a free seminar “Mental Medicine” at which the curator of Aida Mitsuo Museum will be the keynote speaker. We have received a request from the media to attend this event which is almost fully booked out. Mr. Kurosu from Wakabayashi Help and a member of the board of directors of Touhoku HELP also spoke to me and said “There are still many things we need to think about and a lot we want to do.”
I personally together with the Directors of Touhoku HELP and all our supporters would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support and prayers.