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2021 July Heavy Rain (Atami) ActivityReport NPOPartnerProjects

One Year Anniversary Part 1: Activity Reports from Tenkarasen and Megumi Group

One year since the disaster

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July 3 marked the one-year anniversary of the landslide disaster in Atami.

Civic Force has been supporting local organizations in their reconstruction efforts through NPO Partner Projects. In May, Civic Force visited them to find out how each organization is doing.

Tenkarasen

The first organization Civic Force visited was Tenkarasen. Tenkarasen is mostly made up of young volunteers in the Izusan area and they have been supporting the local neighborhood through relief item distribution and community events. With support from Civic Force’s NPO Partner Project, Tenkarasen strengthened its management body, created a website and SNS accounts, and hosted information-sharing events for the affected residents. Please see more details here.

In April of this year, Tenkarasen opened a community cafe called “Aizome Cafe” in Izusan with funds raised through crowdfunding. The cafe has become an important place for the community and tourists to come together. Students often visit the cafe to do their homework after school.

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A “Pay it Forward” ticket is sold at the cafe for 500 yen (USD 3.7) for visitors who wish to do something for the community. The tickets can be used to purchase food and beverages at the cafe. “Students use the tickets a lot,” said the head of Tenkarasen, Ms. Kazumi Takahashi. “It is an easy way to support each other.”

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Some visitors come to the cafe hoping to do something for the community. The cafe has a spot inside where visitors can leave messages on coasters for the local residents. Ms. Takahashi believes that the cafe is slowly becoming the gathering space for the local residents as well as well wishers.

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The NPO Partner Project with Tenkarasen entered its second term in April. Tenkarasen is working toward becoming a registered non-profit organization and hosting a community meeting to exchange ideas for reconstruction efforts. They are also preparing to publish a community newspaper to disseminate information about local organizations. Please see more details here (Japanese language only).

Megumi Group

Megumi Group, a welfare organization, is a 15-minute walk from Tenakrasen’s Aizome Cafe. Megumi Group is managing a workshop for people with disabilities and supporting their livelihood opportunities. Through the NPO Partner Project that ended in December 2021, Civic Force supported Megumi Group to purchase office supplies and equipment after their workshop was flooded.

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The day Civic Force visited, the clients were working on wrapping toilet papers and disassembling umbrellas to make reusable grocery bags.

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Megumi Group purchased a vehicle with the funds provided by the NPO Partner Project. They can now travel to other neighborhoods for jobs and events with their clients and increase revenue. 

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In the aftermath of the disaster, Megumi Group launched a crowdfunding project and Twitter account to promote their activities. Ms. Hitomi Furuhata, a staff member at Megumi Group, told Civic Force that the support system in the community built during the disaster response continues to support Megumi Group. A few days earlier, the clients got to pick oranges at a farm owned by their landlord and sold them along with other crafts. Ms. Furuhata said, “We get more invitations from local people and organizations. We are hoping to expand our activities through those connections.”

Megumi Group installed a storage for emergency items using funds granted by an aid organization. They also installed lighting fixtures outside hoping to cheer up the community that lost houses during the disaster. In June, Megumi Group also set up a patio area for get-togethers.

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As we enter another rainy season, each organization is striving to support their local community.

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