Slide Show


The Emergency Relief Works of Japan YMCAs

The former President of the World Alliance, Mr. Martin Vogler appealed, 'The YMCA has to be the place that listens to, shares with, prays for, expresses solidarity with the crying and suffering of people."

What can we do in the face of ever increasing disasters? For me, it has totally changed my life since 17 th January 1995. I was there in Kobe as the staff of Kobe YMCA.

At 5:46 am on January 17,1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake with the magnitude of 7.2 hit Kobe City and the Hanshin awaii regions in Hyogo prefecture. It caused unprecedented damage including the loss of 6,433 lives; 15,000 injured and the collapse and burning of 240,000 buildings. Earthquake victims numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and at its peak, 317,000 people sought refuge at the shelters.

1.  What was the Great Hanshin Earthquake? What happened since then?

•  People have referred to 1995 as "the Year of Volunteerism". Assistance came from all over the country, and a total of 1.5 million volunteers showed up.
•  The citizens, NGO/NPO and social resources including GO in Kobe has worked together for relief and recovery from domestic and overseas disaster.

2.  The history of emergency works of Japan YMCAs

•  Earlier times: World War I & II, Kanto Earthquake(1923), lsewan typhoon(1959),
•  Since 1990: Unzen Fugendake Volcano (1991), Hokkaido-Nanseioki earthquake(1993),
•  Since 1995: Usuzan Volcano(2000) etc.

3.  The character of the YMCA's relief works

•  Humanitarian assistance in emergencies at community basis and linking with each phase. A short-term/emergency work, a middle-term/recovery work and long-term relief, rehabilitation & recreational works in the disaster affected community towards a self-reliant society and sustainable development.
•  YMCA is a worldwide volunteer association with grassroots Network and linked at local, national, regional & global levels.
•  Comprehensive approach to disaster affected community. A variety of experiences especially in recreational programs/camp, childcare, social work, volunteer coordination, total risk management.
•  Collaboration with a various specialists & resources
•  People know and rely on YMCA's work. Each YMCA has a long time history to serve a community.

4. Being with most vulnerable people

•  Physically/Mentally Challenged people
•  People with low incomes
•  Racial or ethnic minorities/Non-native language speaking people/Refugees
•  Persons living alone
•  Children/Women
•  Elderly people

5. What I have learnt from the Kobe Quake

•  "Flexibility" when the critical incident happens
•  Remember the 3 T's: "Tears, Talk & Time"
•  Always care for the traumatized people, be with Children, Families & Communities
•  Comprehensive approach to Total Disaster Risk Management & Public education
•  Care for the caregivers
•  Tackling Global, Local & Borderless Issues on a daily basis

6. My commitment in disaster relief works

Turkey (1999), Taiwan (1999), Usuzan Volcano (2000) / Hokkaido, Japan, El Salvador (2001), India (2001), Vietnam (2002), N.Y. (2002), Afghanistan (2002)

7. Our issues. Our concerns.

a) Be aware of what is happening. Educational programs for community development.

"By enhancing community-based preparedness, it enables people's effective participation in the immediate relief phase, in which crucial time centralized assistance is often beyond reach." "A broad consensus had been reached to put emphasis on community-based programs that involved vulnerable people themselves in the planning and implementation(Yokohama Strategy 1994)."

b) Understanding people, living with risks, at structural and social context. Respecting their own culture.

It is rather a result of a rise in people's vulnerability, brought about by human-determined paths of development. It is no accident that 90% of all disaster victims worldwide live in developing countries. Unsustainable development practices also contribute to the ever-greater impact of natural hazards.

c) Changing our recognition. A paradigm shift towards a culture of prevention & preparedness as local, national, regional and global initiatives.

"The priority shifts to reducing the vulnerability and war-proneness of the society, managing/removing the risks, which can lead to disasters, creating the conditions necessary for a sustainable peace. And building people's capacity to cope with the emergencies.

d) Working together beyond our border towards a better world and our future.

"Disaster cannot be tackled in a single dimension but in multi-dimension with recognition of the importance of socio-cultural, economic dimension and its complexity, where no single group can claim to be a dominant actor for the solution. "

e) Making our Mission first. What we can do for personal, family, community crisis.

8. Our Challenges

•  Structural Violence/Poverty
•  Environmental & Social Issues
•  Leadership Development
•  Capacity Building
•  Sustainable Community
•  Mission, Vision & Philosophy
•  YMCA's Code of Conduct

Contact person:
Mr. Hiroshi Oe
Chief Director
Center for Global & Local Community Services
2-7-15, Kano-cho, Chuo-ku
KOBE 650-0001, Japan
Phone: (91 78) 241 7201
Fax: (91 28) 241 7479



Emotional Phases & Activities of Disaster Recovery 

1. Heroic Phase, prior to/immediately after

•  Shock
•  Fear
•  Confusion
•  Adrenalin rush
•  Heroic acts
•  People coming together

2. Honeymoon Phase, 1 week to 3-6 months after

  • Attend to basic needs in a chaotic environment
  • Concerns about safety, food for today, and a place to sleep tonight
  • Unrealistic expectations about recovery
  • Sharing of resources /willingness to help others
  • Denial of extent of needs or emotional impact

3. Disillusionment Phase, 2 months to 1-2 years after

•  Reality of impact on lives and community
•  Realization of losses and work to be done
•  Procedures to get assistance (both government and insurance)
•  Community politics begin to emerge
•  Grieving
•  Many psychosomatic complaints
•  Abuse issues

4. Reconstruction Phase, may last for several years after

•  Light at the end of the tunnel
•  Begin to put the disaster behind
•  Renewed feeling of empowerment
•  Post-traumatic stress disorder
•  Return to predisaster activities

Disaster Mental Health Services 1, American Red Cross

History of the Relief Works

1)May 1996 Sakhalin Earthquake

2)Feb.1996 China Earthquake , Construction of elementary school

3)Jul.1996 South China Flood

4) Oct.1996 Cambodia Flood

5) Nov.1996 South India Cyclone

6) Feb./
May 1997 Iran Earthquake

7) May 1997 North Korea Food Crisis, Construction of elementary school

8) Jan.1998 China Earthquake

9) Feb.1998 Afghanistan Earthquake

10)Mar 1998 Papua New Guinea Earthquake , Construction of elementary school

11) Dec.1998 Afghanistan Earthquake

12) Jan.1999 Papua New Guinea Earthquake , Construction of elementary school

13) May 1999 Honduras Hurricane, Construction of elementary school

14) Jun.1999 Colombia Earthquake , Construction of Mental Care Center

15) May 1999 Peru Flood , collaboration with Peru YMCA

16) Jun.1999 Mexico Earthquake

17) * Aug.1999 Turkey Earthquake, Construction of Community Center

18) * Sep.1999 Taiwan Earthquake, collaboration with Taiwan YMCA

19) Dec.1999 Venezuela Flood , collaboration with Venezuela YMCA

20) Jan.2000 China Earthquake

21) Feb.2000 Mozambique Flood

22) Mar.2000 Mongolia Snow

23) Oct. 2000 Cambodia and Vietnam Flood, collaboration with Vietnam YMCA

24) Jan. 2000 El Salvador Earthquake, collaboration with El Salvador YMCA

25) Jan.2000 Gujarat India Earthquake , collaboration with Gandhidham YMCA

26) Oct.2001 Afghanistan Refugees, collaboration with Pakistan YMCA

* The NGO Network Committee for Disaster ReliefˇXThe NGOs Kobe [ now Citizen's Overseas Disaster Emergency or CODE]. The NGOs Kobe has originally started as a council of NGOs in Kobe for disaster relief works after the Great Hanshin Earthquake at the Kobe YMCA.

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