一般財団法人 連帯 東北・西南 RENTAI TOHOKU-SEINAN

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2013.12.25 19:51

Senmaya International Club and Event at Okago (12/23-24 2013 in Senmaya and Fujisawa, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture)

● A Meeting at the Senmaya International Club

We held a meeting at the Senmaya International Club from 12:00 to 15:30 on December 23rd to cooperate in the revitalization of the local area.

Our Foundation had been using a rented, old traditional house in Senmaya, Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture as our base for our support activities for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. As a different traditional house nearby was given to our Foundation this spring, we renovated it and opened it as the Senmaya Interntional Club on October 5th.

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Since its establishment, our Foundation has been focusing our volunteering activities on considering specific ways to enable self-reliance in various ways through discussions and thinking together at the disaster-affected sites, and swiftly implementing these ideas. We asked the refugee residents to join us at the meeting on December 23rd, held between 12:00-15:30 to think about how to revitalize the Senmaya area which faces depopulation.

Our understanding is that as of October 1st, there are 499 evacuees /263 households from Kesennuma and nearby areas who now reside in three temporary housings in Senmaya area. Three representatives from two of these temporary housings joined us at the meeting.

Including the manager of the Senmaya Branch of Ichinoseki City Hall and residents of Senmaya and Fujisawa, a total of 17 people attended the meeting. We had a lively discussion on ideas for regional revitalization and communications among the residents of temporary housings.

The three participants from the Senmaya Branch voluntarily declared themselves "Team Senmaya" to make a statement to actively hold volunteer activities.

One of the representatives who joined us from the temporary housing complex agreed to cooperate in the activities to provide psychological support and assist our Foundation, and we intend to continue our support activities.

As our Foundation also wishes for those in the revitalization of the area to make use of the Senmaya International Club, we informed the staff of the Senmaya Branch Ichinoseki City Hall of our wish and asked to utilize it in an effective way.

● The Lighting Ceremony and Dinner Party at Okago Church

From 5 p.m. on December 23rd, we assisted in the Christmas Event (Illumination Lighting Ceremony) at Okago Church in Fujisawa, Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture.

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Okago is an area where over 300 Christians were martyred in the early Edo Period. Our Representative had been trying to think of a way to somehow assist in the revitalization of this area, and was introduced to Mr. Hatakeyama, the director of the Okago Christian Resource Center, from a priest in Fujisawa who always assist us. As such, we have been assisting in the lighting event since last year.

This was our second event, and the illumination lighting ceremony took place at Okago Church at 5 p.m. Everyone gathering at the event counted down together to switched on the lights. Several tens of thousands of LED lamps lighted up all at once, and the church was enveloped in a magical atmosphere with colorful illuminations in the pitch-black night. The atmosphere was even more magical this year, with a newly-planted fir tree in the churchyard and the 40 bamboo candles lighting up the way leading to the church.

Director Hatakeyama of the Okago Christian Resource Center had long been wishing over the years for an illumination event. We all thought of the numerous Christians who were martyred in this area long ago, and prayed for the souls of those who tragically lost their lives to the Great East Japan Earthquake in May 2011.

This event was reported in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun.

Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, December 24th, 2013

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● Chrismas Mass at Okago Church

From 11 a.m. on December 24th, we assisted in the Christmas Mass (Mass and Christmas Party) at Okago Church in Fujisawa, Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture. The Mass held at this church recommenced after more than 30 years as was the illumination lighting event.

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Father Takahashi of Mizusawa Church was asked to come, and the Christmas Mass at Okago Church was performed in a solemn atmosphere. Approximately 30 people gathered, including the local children.

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We held a simple Christmas Party after the Mass with the Christmas cakes lovingly baked by the local residents. We had a surprise guest, our Representative Sata's "Sata" Claus, and everyone at the party received a Christmas present. Our Representative planned this by himself and kept it a secret from the Foundation staff present at the party, so the staff was even more surprised than the children.

Our support activities in the Okago Church event have continued for two years now. Last year, our Foundation was the main force in handling the announcement of the event. This year, Director Hatakeyama took over and handled everything from planning to announcing which ended in a successful event. We realized that our activities were of use to the local revitalization, and hope that there will also be a wonderful event next year. We shall do our best so that the church will be filled with people at the Mass.

The event was reported in Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun and the Iwate Nippo.

Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, December 25th, 2013

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Iwate Nippo, December 25th, 2013

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Categories:Staff reports

2013.12.25 19:51 admin

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