International Volunteer Center of Yamagata (IVY) is a non-governmental organization established in 1991 that addresses the issues of rural Asian societies. IVY aims to be culturally sensitive and sustainable.
Direct Relief has supported IVY since June 2011 in cash grants to fund earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster relief and recovery efforts.
IVY disaster relief efforts in Japan have focused on activities that stimulate the local economy and help residents resume work in Ishinomaki City and Kesennuma City. Program participants have cleaned flooded houses belonging to elderly people and those who are in most need.
- Miyagi Prefecture: Ishinomaki, Kesennuma
- Yamagata Prefecture
TOTAL AMOUNT GRANTED: $698,709
- Emergency Relief Program Grant
- Local Power for Local Relief Program Grant
Emergency Relief “Cash for Work” Program Grant
Project Dates: June 1, 2011 – March 31, 2012
IVY’s Cash for Work program has provided unemployed disaster victims with work and income while also contributing to the recovery efforts by cleaning debris from houses of those who cannot do it themselves. Workers in IVY’s program, some of whom have participated in the cleaning of over 70 homes during the six months following the earthquake and tsunami, are all disaster victims themselves and many lost jobs in fishing or other industries because of the disaster. After three months of employment allowance from the Japanese government, those who lost their jobs did not have a source of income. IVY has built hope, purpose, and self-sufficiency by providing work opportunity.
Some disaster evacuees, especially elderly people, have been unable to return to their homes because of debris and flooding. IVY’s Cash for Work program has accelerated the return of the elderly to their homes by targeting these houses for debris removal.
Direct Relief funds nearly one fifth of IVY’s Cash for Work Program, a large percentage of which goes to workers’ salaries and construction tools and materials.
IVY’s relief and recovery activities are detailed below:
- Information Gathering: Homeowners with the greatest need for assistance, especially elderly people, have been identified and prioritized for debris removal.
- Mud and Debris Clearance: IVY Cash for Work program participants are paid to clean debris from homes, business, and public areas. Over 200 devastated houses and offices were cleaned from June to October 2011.
- Employment of Tsunami Victims: Over 110 tsunami victims have been employed for more than 10 months in Miyagi Prefecture. Direct Relief funding pays for salaries of project managers, area managers, group leaders, and office workers.
- On-the-Job Training: Due to a low supply and high demand for carpenters in the tsunami zone, homeowners are requesting that IVY’s workers perform skilled repair and reconstruction tasks. In order to raise the workers’ skill level to meet this need, IVY will increase opportunities for on-the-job training. Simultaneously, workers’ acquisition of new skills increases their marketability on the job market.
- Worker Support: In additional to providing temporary employment, IVY facilitates and/or supports program participants in finding or creating new jobs to sustain their income and skills.
- Local Economy Stimulation: Some of the project participants have contributed to the hosting of 261 morning markets in more than 25 temporary housing sites with 2,736 residents fro June to October 2011. IVY also purchases items, such as food, locally when possible and holds gatherings to promote communications among victims.
Local Power for Local Relief Program Grant
Project Dates: April 1, 2012 – March 31, 2013
IVY strongly believes in the power of actions by local residents to be their own cure for issues related to the disaster. More than one year after the disaster, IVY is continuing existing programs and implementing new initiatives to help people in the devastated region to help themselves. Currently, the support is focused on the hardest hit areas of Kesennuma and Ishinomaki.
Direct Relief funds half of IVY’s Baby Home Project and Local NPO Mentorship Program, detailed below:
- Baby Home Project: IVY is mentoring childcare facility staff and subsidizing their employment cost, using the same model as the successful “Cash for Work” Program. In the affected region, where it is difficult to find full-time, stable employment, it is increasingly necessary for families with children to have two incomes. Affordable childcare services are very limited so IVY has chosen to support a new center called TSUBOMI (“blossom bud”). IVY’s support allows the childcare workers to receive their first income since September 2011, keeps the cost of childcare affordable, and allows the parents of 20 infants to seek or continue employment.
- Local NPO Mentorship Program: The importance of local residents participating in solving of problems became apparent to IVY during their “Cash for Work” Program, “Locals know the most about local problems, and they are the ones who have solutions for them.” In order to stimulate localized and sustainable activities, IVY has decided to support newly established local Nonprofit Organizations (NPOs). Assistance includes instruction on the incorporation of the organization, fundraising, accounting, labor service, and sustainable business planning. IVY aims for the organizations to be self-sustaining by March 2013.
- Tree Seed: An organization started by 5 IVY Cash for Work workers who wanted to continue supporting Kesennuma through community center support, food provision for the elderly, volunteer coordination, and more.
- Ichigo-Ichie: A small company established by 4 IVY Cash for Work workers that assists the elderly and anyone who needs it.
- Job-Matching Assistance: IVY’s situation analysis has determined that there is a matching gap in people looking for jobs and companies who are hiring. IVY is continuing to support workers and businesses by consulting, providing information, and providing matching opportunity.
- Business/Entrepreneurship Seminars: Since December 2011, IVY has been holding business seminars in the affected areas and providing free counseling services. IVY is collecting business plans and exploring ways to support new ideas.