Tohoku Help Secretariat2011.12.26

Regarding the report about the newly established and incorporated foundation;

Approaching the end of October:

It has been already about two months since the Tohoku Help Secretariat became a legally recognized body. Almost two months have passed with the support and prayers of numerous people. During this period, a number of new projects have been planned and fortunately some of them have started implementation.
 Today, the following press release has been released to the Miyagi Prefecture Press Club. This is the summary of our results. We would like to share them along with our great appreciation.
October 27, 2011



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To: News agencies,

Information on Tohoku Help Secretariat

Rev. (Dr.) Naoya Kawakami
Executive Director, the Victim Support Network (Touhoku Help)
Sendai, Christian Union
Chairman, Board of Directors, Tohoku Deaconia (Tohoku Help Secretariat)
Tel.: 022-263-0520
FAX: 022-263-0521
URL: http//touhokuhelp.com

Dear Friends,

I am happy to hear that you are well and prosperous. I am obliged to you for the trouble you have taken for me always.

The Sendai Christian Union which is composed of 100 churches in the Sendai area started the disaster support network on March 18th right after the huge disaster.
This organization is a voluntary organization and commonly called “Tohoku Help” and has engaged in gathering information and raising funds. With much support this secretariat becomes now a legally incorporated foundation known as “Tohoku Deaconia” (commonly called “Tohoku Help Secretariat”) and now will serve a longer period of time.
In collaboration with the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ), it is getting support from NGOs in different countries allowing us to have started some supporting projects already. We would like to report and share with you these recent developments.

The list of projects:

1) The supporting projects for the foreign victims:
We have to conduct a survey of the damaged situation of the foreigners
(Those who have roots in a foreign country) living in affected prefectures and connect them to the necessary social resources. We also are preparing “A supporting handbook for the victims” and starting “the supporting center for foreign victims.” We are planning to have a symposium together with related organizations to seek possible cooperation and further exchange information. (Never the less to say, the recipient of support should not be limited to only Christians; the same rule applies to all cases.)

2) The project for measuring radioactivity in the foodstuffs:
In the most contaminated AREA, especially to ease insecurity of residents in Fukushima pref., that is Naka-dori district( the central corridor district), we will install five sets of the radioactivity measuring instrument(LB2045). This will be done in Iwaki city and Sendai city together with the counselors who take care of “care of heart” . The measured data should not be announced to outside people.

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3) The radio program “Café de Monk” and the telephone counseling project:
To support “Counseling Room for the heart,” which was established and supported by the Miyagi Pref. Religious Corporation, and send messages for the heart to the victims through this radio program by the well-known leaders of the community.
Between 3:00~10:00 p.m. on Sunday and Wednesday, the free telephone counseling by clergy (Shinto, Buddhist, Christian) is provided. The radio broadcasting is also utilized for informing about available telephone counseling

4) The supporting project for building community:
In order to support the activity of residential organization in the temporary housing and its supporter’s activity, we are promoting community organizing. We are already now supporting five temporary housings areas and looking for some other opportunities.

Concluded.

Tohoku Help:
Secretariat Reports:

The report on the establishment of the new foundation:

News about the secretariat and home page renewal;

 Please accept our heartfelt gratitude for your continuous support!
Our ”Tohoku Help” was born on March 18th,2011,just one week after the giant earthquake and tsunami of March 11th . It was our small attempt to take the channel of support and donations for gathering and sorting out information regarding the disaster.
Initially we thought the organization would last only one month.
However,the activities have extended month by month with the encouragement of the people concerned.
 In May, the Voice for the continuation of the secretariat became like a consensus of the concerned people. Since last month,we have worked hard building the organization as a body and finally forming it.
Here we have renewed our home page and report our new organization and activities. You may click the following button to see our recent reports. We really need your continuous support and prayers for our activities. Through this home page we hope to inform you on our up-to-date reports from now on.
 I urge you to remember our activities for the affected people. We send you our deepest appreciation and prayers for God's protection.


Tohoku Help secretariat,
Rev.(Dr.)Naoya Kawakami,
Managing Director





"Our work through meetings”

The major work of Tohoku Help has been office work and meetings. We have not yet been involved much in the support of the victims directly through field work. 0ur job and responsibility is mainly f an administrative nature. This includes building up the frame work of activity,discussing and sorting out the content of needed discussions and keeping minutes of the meetings. The home page “Tohoku Help” is http.//touhokuhelp.com. Please find the guest book here. Besides meeting and consulting with visitors,we also have various meetings outside the office. In fact the managing director is having many meetings outside of the office.
 For example, there are many records of meetings in my notebook from last week.
Monday: The staff meeting of the secretariat and board meeting of Tohoku Help.
Tuesday: Consultation on the home page management with an out sourced company.
Tuesday evening: Meeting with the members of the National Christian Council (NCC) in Tokyo.
Wednesday: Meeting with people of the organization called “Mission 21” from Switzerland.
Thursday morning: Meeting with members of an orchestra from Germany. After that, we had a consultation with a representative from Wakabayashi Help, one of our cooperative organizations.
    Afternoon: Meeting with a minister of the Rissho Kosei-kai (Buddhist) Sendai church and the chairperson of a liaison conference of religious bodies in Miyagi prefecture to discuss the training program that we will plan for October 19th,
    Evening; the general meeting of the Sendai Christian Alliance.
Friday afternoon; Conference with Samaritan’s Purse,After holding the above conference, we discussed the future plan of support by the city administration for the people at the sites of the temporary housing units.
In our various meetings and conferences we are repeatedly speaking about the present activities of Tohoku Help. Through this process we have realized the real problems and challenges that we have encountered. What is our problem that we have faced? It is probably the theme of “relief and mission”. It is pointing out the need of “spiritual support”. There are two aspects for spiritual support in the Western world; “psychological support” and “religious support”. We thought on the matter of the later one,“religious support” in the context of ”relief and mission”. When we talk about “Seelsorge=care of soul” to the visitors from Switzerland they seemed moved and seemed to understand deeply. Yet we feel another word for this concept is “spiritual care”. It is said that religious support is “Care for the heart”. However,it is not easy to provide this. We believe that we are facing this challenge now. We have realized this now through the various dialogues and meetings we have held.
 Reflecting on our past experiences,we remembered that during the great Hanshin earthquake almost all religious groups and bodies were propagating their religion,and were refused and rejected by the victims. It is very dangerous to hurt the dignity of victims when “relief “is used as a tool for “mission”. 0n the other hand, if religious organizations involve in relief activity doing nothing for religious activity,it may be asked what is its identity as a religious organization. There exists quite a difficult problem and issue here.
 Under the suffering from the earthquake, the tsunami, and the disaster of the nuclear power plant, many organization and group faces the question of “relief and mission”. There may be many failures and short comings. Yet we have already started the projects. So in our meetings and consultations with concerned people and organizations we should not forget their opinions and views. We would like to support projects through trial and error.

October 9, 2011
Rev. (Dr.) Naoya Kawakami
Managing Director,
Tohoku Help

The Role of Tohoku Help; (Report on a visit to Iwate)

I had an opportunity to visit Iwate prefecture last weekend, September 24th. This trip well indicated the role of Tohoku Help. Here I would like to explain about the content of our support. The purpose of going to Iwate is to visit two offices among the ecumenical network within Iwate prefecture. The two offices are "3.11 Iwate Church Network" which is located at "Morioka Bible Baptist Church" and "Iwate Mission Cooperative Association" which office located at "Hanamaki Christ Mission Church".
I arrived Morioka in the morning and met Rev. Yoshiya Kondo and Rev. Humiaki Otsuka. We reported and shared our situation with each other to seek possible cooperation and pray together. As we believe we can develop future cooperation, we moved to the next destination. The next destination was the city of Hanamaki. We met Rev. Eizaburou Kumagai there. I have already met him once before and discussed about cooperation with our relief program. So this time we were discussing more concretely about support of those in temporary housing in Ofunato, which we had talked about in our previous meeting.

The temporary housing units where Rev. Kumagai's relative is living now has no NPO activities because of some problems. So, then we moved to Ofunato having an introduction by Rev. Kumagai. It had become already dark when we arrived there. Though it was a late hour, the community president of the temporary housing extended a welcome for us.

Morioka Bible Baptist Church:

The community association of the temporary housing was just about organized. The president of the association was full of enthusiasm. However it seems that support is lacking among the administration sector, business sector and NPO's. It seems that there are some areas where we could get involve!
It is well indicating of our role of in the relief support through the experience of Morioka Bible Baptist Church in our Iwate visit.

We have confirmed that we are asked the following role and responsibility;
1) Gathering information and broadening the network of the church,
2) Finding out the necessary but hidden relief needs,
3) Connecting those needs to the network of churches and providing support for them.

And it is always necessary for support that the following three matters be considered.
1) There should be persons who wish to serve their neighbors with strong commitment and enthusiasm.
2) There is also the group or/and the organization who is backing him up.
3) And there should be a demand and needed relief.

We should find out #3), and should bear the role of #2). It is most important for the persons being served to take responsibility of #1); however we are not able to be involved in this. It is necessary to have prayer for this particular work. Through our prayer, we can find the appropriate person to serve this most needed important responsibility. We are praying hard to find someone. Our heavenly God will surely give the desire to him if he should be involved. We should pray eagerly to get an appropriate person to serve soon. At the temporary housing in Ofunato, we have met such a person. I thought that our heavenly Father provided the will to this person for service. We give the glory of serving to God through the assistance of such committed people.

Rev. (Dr.) Naoya Kawakami
(Full responsibility for
Content of this writing)

The courtesy visit; 15 representatives from the Korean church

The operation of Tohokuhelp manages the annual budget of 40 million yen by offerings and donations. This budget has been donated from overseas churches and organizations by the appeal of NCC (National Christian Council) in Japan. The prompt response comes from all over the world but especially from Germany and Korea. Those 15 visitors are the representatives who worked for raising donations for the disaster.
On September 17th, Rev. Kawakami attended a presentation at the NCC office in Tokyo to receive 90 million won (app.6.3million yen) from Korea.
The Korean group visited Higashi-matsushima, the Seaside Bible Chapel in Gamou, in Sendai. Rev. Kawakami has accompanied the visiting group from the temporary housing area and came to the office to greet and answer questions.
Rev. Kawakami, the director explained in his greeting that it was not necessary to have an office for only one time relief but we have realized our relief programs have continued for a longer period of time. That is why we have established the office to deal with problems properly. This office is for friendship between you and the Japanese people, Rev. Kawakami explained.
The Korean group asked a question about the basic policy for the relif program? He explained that we are working together with the Tohoku parish of the United Church of Christ in Japan (Kyodan) and that the relief and support should not be forced on the victims no matter what may happen. We should not force on them our faith, or our money or any other goods. Yet we are ready to meet promptly when we are requested anything from them. There is a great demand from the people in the disaster stricken area for "hope" and employment.
Another question was how has the relief work started for the foreign victims? The National Christian Liaison Council has made a request of support through Rev. Heo Baekki of JEDRO. There were many keen questions regarding the foreigners who were in the disaster. Tohoku Help is conducting a survey to find the situation after the disaster and providing mental care for immigrants particularly. It was a short period of time, some 40 min. but it was a very fruitful visit.