一般財団法人 連帯 東北・西南 RENTAI TOHOKU-SEINAN

一般財団法人 連帯 東北・西南 RENTAI TOHOKU-SEINAN

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2013.10.25 18:22

Syed Tahir from our Foundation was introduced in the Ishinomaki Medical Association Bulletin.

Dr. Kenichi Shoji, the director of Shoji Naika Ichoka (Shoji Internal Medicine and Gastrointestinal Hospital) of Mizuho Healthcare Corporation, contributed an article in the 260th issue of the Ishinomaki Medical Association Bulletin. The article introduces Syed Tahir from our Foundation, and with Dr. Shoji's permission we post his article.

Dr. Shoji had been of great assistance when we dedicated and built the Angel Statue at the site of Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki on March 11th of this year, from arranging the accommodation for our staff and obtaining the tents and setting them up, even hosting a dinner on the evening of March 10th in Ishinomaki for the 25 people involved plus providing lunch on the 11th.

We take this opportunity to thank Dr. Shoji again for his kind assistance.

Ishinomaki Medical Association Bulletin

September 2013
No. 260

Charms of people in Tohoku
Kenichi Shoji

On a Sunday three months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I received a strange phone call. "My name is Syed Tahir. I'm a volunteer from Nagoya who is working in Iwate. I am calling because Dr. Masamoto told me to say hello to Dr. Shoji. I was wondering if I could visit you some time when convenient for you..." Dr. Masamoto is an internal medicine specialist who is my senior at the university. He runs a kidney dialysis centre in Handa, Aichi prefecture. He has bought a hospital where he used to work as a part-timer and is now its manager. Currently he has acquired several clinics and is busy managing business rather than treating patients.

On the following Sunday, Mr.Tahir drove his car with no car navigation system and made great efforts to find his way to my house all the way from Senmaya, Iwate. He came to Miyagi by car full of rescue supplies immediately after the earthquake. First, he worked as a volunteer at Minato Primary School in Ishinomaki for 2 months and now is based in Hiraizumi, Iwate, working in various disaster-affected areas.

Mr. Tahir is a Muslim and belongs to a minor Islamic sect called Ahmaddiya. In his home country, Pakistan, Ahmaddiya followers are often suppressed by larger sects such as Sunni and Shi'ite. Perhaps because of that, he came to Japan 20 years ago as if following his brother, who is running a trading company in Nagoya. Since then, he has helped his brother's business. Now at the age of 46, he has a wife and three children. One is a second grader at junior high school and the other two are the 6th and 4th graders of primary school.

There is a teaching of Ahmaddiya that one must help those who are in need. As he has been grown up in an environment where this attitude is naturally accepted, Mar. Tahir almost reflexively rushed for Tohoku by a truck full of rescue supplies provided from Ahmaddiya. I cannot forget his puzzled reaction when he was asked why he was involved in volunteer activities by an elderly man in Iwate. He seemed to suspect that it would not be convincing enough for the old man if he had said that it was only a natural thing to do and tried to explain his reasons logically. However it was not easy to have his religious belief understood. According to Mr. Tahir, the universe is regulated by the plan of God and nothing can be irrational or incidental. He sounded as if he were a Christian. Later, Mr. Yasuhiko Sata, president of TKB Corpotation whom I met through Mr. Tahir, told me that Islam is based on the Old Testament and has much in common with Christianity.

TKB is a company whose former name was Tokibo Co., Ltd. As a major dealer of medical devices such as ventilators, it is well known amongst healthcare professionals. The present president Mr. Sata's father was a medical doctor and involved in a medical device related business. The experience led him to set up his own company called Tokibo. Mr. Yasuhiko Sata took over his father's business and expanded the company into an enterprise group with many affiliated companies in the US and Europe. Mr. Stata created a juridical foundation called "Rentai Tohoku-Seinan" in May 2011 with a view to supporting the 311 victims in Tohoku to re-establish their lives. Mr. Tahir met Mr. Sata through his volunteer activities and now works as the board director of "Rentai Tohoku-Seinan".

On a Saturday in July, Mr. Tahir visited our home after some while. "As I'm so busy with my volunteer work that I cannot spend any time with my family, I decided to move to Sendai and bring them with me. My wife and children agreed to my decision." The announcement came out of the blue and I tried to convince him that he had done enough work as a volunteer already and suggested to go back to Nagoya and focus on his own work. However he seemed to be totally determined. After he came to Tohoku, he had a chance to meet various people. Perhaps it was because many people were still caught up in the heat of the moment after the Earthquake, but he made a lot of friends to whom he could open up and let himself out amongst those living in temporary compounds and fellow local volunteers. He did not wish to lose these precious relationships by going back to Nagoya. This made him decide to move to Sendai with his family and continue to work for Rentai Tohoku-Seinan, making his new home a base for volunteer activities. For him, his friends in Tohoku are dear to him just like his family.

Mr. Tahir being nervous every time a camera is pointed at him

Tahir was born and brought up in the Northern Pakistan near the Karakorum. As he had occasionally contacted with Japanese tourists since he was very young, Japan has always been a place he felt an affinity with. Though this is merely my wild guess, the people in rural Tohoku and those in rural Pakistan may have something in common.

Generally speaking, people in Tohoku may be hard to approach at first but once warmed up, they are more open and candid than people in Nagoya and tend to build an honest and unreserved friendship. I am confident in this view as I spent 6 years in Nagoya when I was a university student. Mr. Tahir is a simple and straightforward man, more like a Tohoku local compared to a Nagoyan. He may have had some feeling of strangeness during 20 years of life in Nagoya. But in Tohoku, he felt as if he were included and started to see this place as his home to be.

Last week, Mr. Tahir and his family moved into a house in a leafy residential area in Sendai. The children are going to go to new schools from the second semester. The girl in the 4th grade of primary school is going to enter a Catholic school. Mr. Tahir negotiated with the school insisting on impossible conditions that the girl would not attend a mass or a religious class. Surprisingly, the principal consented willingly. This would never happen in countries other than Japan. Mr. Tahir was extremely grateful to Japanese tolerance (perhaps insensitivity) for other religions.

Categories:Staff reports

2013.10.25 18:22 admin

2013.10.20 13:24

Participating in the NUMA FES 2013 (10/20 2013 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture)

On Sunday, October 20th, we provided Tomodachi Curry® at the NUMA☆FES 2013 (festival) held in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, and took part in the event.

This is a reconstruction assistance event held in Hongo, Kesennuma, and has been held since 2011 when the Earthquake hit. We participated in the 2011 event, and this was our second time to join in.

We were given the opportunity to provide Tomodachi Curry® at the event thanks to Mr. Keishin Kurosawa, the president of Kabushiki Kaisha Hakku, a company in Kesennuma. When we took part the first time, we provided curry and boiled dumplings free of charge, but this time we proceeded with our preparations with a request to provide the curry for a fee.

With a goal to provide 300 servings, we prepared the night before at Senmaya International Club (SIC). As it was meaningless to simply bring the curry all ready to serve, we only did the basic preparations as we do with other events, and did the actual cooking all at the site. We asked the organizer of the festival to allow us to come to the site at 6 a.m. and start our work.

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It had been raining since morning on the day of the event, and was also the coldest day of the season. So we used more spice than usual and made our curry hotter so that the guests could warm up.

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There were live performances by SCK Girls (local idols of Kesennuma), Lamp Shade (Jazz Band from Kesennuma), and Ikumi Kumagaya, (artist from Kesennuma) at Nakayachi Park where the event was held. The guests enjoying the performances in the rain under umbrellas, and went to the vendor booths afterwards and seemed to enjoy their lunches.

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At the event site, there were vendors selling Kesennuma local goods, Korean food, and also a vendor from Senmaya, and Tomodachi Curry® was well received by the guests. As it was requested that we provide the curry for a fee and not free of charge, we would like to take the sales we made as a donation to Rentai Tohoku-Seinan and intend to give back to the residents in the afflicted area through our future activities.

The initial festival, the NUMA☆FES 2011 was the first event where we provided our curry, and was the starting point of our curry events. Although we were not able to participate in last year's event due to our schedules, we are very happy to have been able to participate this year on the third annual event, and to have been of some help in the revitalization effort of the area.

Categories:Staff reports

2013.10.20 13:24 admin

2013.10.12 13:14

Participating in the event at "Fureai Kizuna Suiden Ganbatta" (10/12 2013 in Tokuda District, Fujisawa-cho, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture)

On Saturday, October 12th, we provided Tomodachi Curry® at the harvest festival held at "Fureai Kizuna Suiden Ganbatta" (a rice field designated to encourage communication among the residents) in Tokuda District, Fujisawa-cho, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, and shared the joys of harvest with the residents.

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The employment promotion housing in Tokuda District is where the victims from Kesennuma and Minamisanriku-cho live temporarily. In June, the residents in these housings and the local residents came together to plant rice at "Tokuda Fureai Kizuna Suiden Ganbatta", and everyone harvested the rice at this event. This was the third year to harvest as a collaborative activity.

With our relationship with Mr. Hiroshi Chida who is the president of the Fujisawa Community Council, we provided Tomodachi Curry® at the harvest festival. We were asked to prepare about 100 servings, and Tahir and Ms. Lee did the preparations the night before at Senmaya International Club. Mr. Keishi Onodera, the president of the Rotary Club in Senmaya, kindly provided approximately 12 kg of poultry used in the preparation free of charge.

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At the venue, residents of Fujisawa helped us prepare the curry and we were able to finish the work in time for the opening of the harvest festival.


Those who finished harvesting the rice came to the room and the lunch time began. There were more dishes in addition to Tomodachi Curry® which were provided by the local residents. For this event, we provided Tomodachi Curry® not with naan but with rice.

Our participation in the harvest festival was thanks to our relations with Mr. Chida, and he introduced us before lunch. As we explained our activities, hopefully everyone was able to understand our activities at afflicted areas and about our Tomodachi Curry®. It would be an honor if we were able to take part in strengthening the relationships among the victims and the local residents.

Categories:Staff reports

2013.10.12 13:14 admin

2013.10.05 13:07

Curry Event at the Temporary Housing Complex in Iwanuma (10/05 2013 at Sato-no-Mori East Housing Complex in Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture)

On Saturday, October 5th, we provided Tomodachi Curry® at Sato-no-Mori East Housing Complex in Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture free of charge to encourage the residents.

Shingon Buddhism Takekoma Temple in Iwanuma, which is in the south of Sendai, has a history which dates back more than 1,000 years. We were able to hold the event thanks to Mr. Unko Matsuki, the 65th priest of the temple.

Iwanuma is about 5 km from the Sendai Airport, but on the day when the earthquake struck the area, Sendai Airport was completely destroyed by the tsunami which almost reached the center of the city and to a point 500m from Takekoma Temple. After the earthquake, with the request from the city, tents were set up in the parking area of the temple and became the temporary evacuation area for the tsunami victims.

Nearly 1,000 people who lost their homes by the tsunami in the coastal area still live today at the temporary housing complex in Iwanuma. As we heard that the amount of support for the residents here was decreasing, we decided to provide Tomodachi Curry® free of charge at this temporary housing complex as proposed by the priest, Mr. Unko Matsuki.

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Sato-no-Mori East Housing Complex is situated approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes by car from Senmaya, our base site. The preparation was done by our Tahir and with the cooperation of Mr. and Ms. Matsuki, and it was finished the night before. Mr. Matsuki had already set up the tent as well at the work site as he personally considered it necessary. This allowed a very smooth start for our work, since we were able to start immediately on arrival at the site.

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Mr. Aoki, the president of Yugen Kaisha Aoki Shoji, and his friend Mr. Miura, the president of Kabushiki Kaisha Morinen kindly volunteered again to lend us a hand and took charge of one pot each. Mr. Aoki is of course well acquainted with the procedure, but Mr. Miura also got accustomed to it as this was his second time to join us, and we thank them for their assistance.

We started serving Tomodachi Curry® at 12 noon.

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Our purpose of holding curry events is to assist in revitalizing the communication among the residents, and provide an opportunity to come out of their small temporary housing rooms to an airy space and enjoy food and conversation with others. On this occasion, Mr. Koga, the owner of a music restaurant who is in good relationship with our Representative Director and singer Ms. Fuku performed some songs with the accompaniment of piano.

The piano was especially popular among the children, and Mr. Koga, surrounded by them, was asked to play anime songs and sang "Flowers will bloom" together over and over, a charity song that supports the recovery of Tohoku. We had a wonderful time together.

The temporary housing complexes where we had visited so far for the curry events tended to be in the mountains or inconvenient areas with more people in their advanced age. However, there were a lot of children at the Sato-no-Mori East Housing Complex, and we felt we were more encouraged. One point we would like to think over is the fact that we could not arrange well for the residents to come together at the meeting room as much as possible, and enjoy the exchanges with us volunteers through the meal we provided. We believe this is due to our lack of communication at the preparatory stage of the event. Tomodachi Curry® is a tool to encourage everyone to communicate, but it does not do its work if it is taken back to their private rooms. We hope to learn from this experience in our future activities.

The event became possible with the great cooperation from Mr. and Ms. Matsuki and we send our sincere gratitude.

Categories:Staff reports

2013.10.05 13:07 admin


RENTAI TOHOKU-SEINAN Support activities
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Latest articles

  • Syed Tahir from our Foundation was introduced in the Ishinomaki Medical Association Bulletin.
  • Participating in the NUMA FES 2013 (10/20 2013 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture)
  • Participating in the event at "Fureai Kizuna Suiden Ganbatta" (10/12 2013 in Tokuda District, Fujisawa-cho, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture)
  • Curry Event at the Temporary Housing Complex in Iwanuma (10/05 2013 at Sato-no-Mori East Housing Complex in Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture)