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Update from Japan - A small step but a right one

[March 28, 2011] From Mr Shinya Yawata, NSKK International Secretary

The Church in Onahama, Iwaki-city, Fukushima Prefecture, Onahama St. Timothy Church has started a food assistance program locally. There are about 10 nursing homes for elderly people with about 400 residents and all of them need assistance to secure food supplies. Local grocery stores have either been washed away by the tsunami or are unable to operate. They cannot purchase supplies locally, nor do they have any means to transport materials. Unfortunately they have not yet received assistance from the local government.

The church has been working with ecumenical groups in the community including the Roman Catholic church to help these institutions [nursing homes]. The buildings has been damaged to different levels, but most of them have not been damaged very badly. Staff can still cook there if they can receive supplies of food. So ecumenical groups have started providing food to them as part of the church's mission work for people in the surrounding community; elderly people in particular.

Food supplies have been transported by individuals, various local groups and NPO [non-profit organisations], and local volunteers but in small amount because of a lack of gasoline. Last week food supplies got so low that there was an appeal for help. Both the diocese of Tokyo and the Provincial Office immediately responded by asking Anglicans in Tokyo surrounding areas to donate food. On Thursday last week two van loads of food were delivered to Tohoku from Tokyo.

They will continue this activity for sometimes until the institutions themselves can manage to provide food on their own. It was very fortunate that tsunami stopped just before reaching the church building as this means the church hall could become a distribution centre.

At the moment, since they cannot provide places for volunteers to sleep or food to eat they are not requesting volunteers from outside. When the situation improves and there are plans to expand the operation they will be better able to receive non-local volunteers.

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Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States. As an independent 501(c) (3) organization, Episcopal Relief & Development takes its mandate from Jesus' words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens communities today to meet tomorrow's challenges. We rebuild after disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.

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