Makenai-zou: The resolute Elephant !

Makenai-zou is the the small towel you see in the image. It is made by the survivors of the 2011 Japan Tohoku earthquake and tsunami as well as previous natural disasters, such as the Hanshin-Awaji 1995, and Niigata -Chuetsu earthquakes of 2004. “Makenai-zou” means “We will carry on” in Japanese. The Zou in the compound word also means Elephant, so it rounds out the pun and resolute, yet friendly, image of the elephant moving forwards, despite all.

AMDA Canada has obtained some of these Makenai-zou towels and they will be on sale at the upcoming fundraising Rutsuko Yamagishi Concert in Vancouver Cathedral on 25th April 2012

For ordering such towels please contact or see

Vancovuer Spring Cathedral Concert for Tohoku-Japan..

Vancouver is known for its cherry blossoms and late-April is when they get going ! Come and see them and come to our wonderful concert. Rutsuku Yamagishi is one of the worlds great pianists. One of Rutsukos beliefs is that performances should be live only – thus she rarely (if ever) will perform for recordings in studios..

Cards and goodwill from Children of Roy Stibbs School BC, to Shizukawa Elementary School children

Shizukawa Elemetary School Principle Mr Kai-ichi Kato and James Buttenheim – AMDA giving cards written by children of a school in B.C, Canada

I hope this message finds you in good spirits and with weather much less humid than here in Japan. My name is James Buttenheim, and I am an American college student working as an intern for AMDA this summer. I had the honor and privilege to personally deliver the letters from Roy Stibbs elementary school to the principal of Shizukawa elementary school.


I want to thank you for this kind, simple gesture to the Minamisanriku community. Since the school has just recently begun operating normally again and is now trying to make up for lost time, the principal, staff, and students find themselves extremely busy each day. Therefore, we were not able to see the cards distributed to the students. However, the principal was pleased to accept them, and I know these letters will brighten the students’ day when they receive them. Additionally, the sentiment will show the families of this community that the larger world community cares about and is with Japan during this trying time.


As you may or may not know, one of our upcoming events in August will be a week of soccer matches. Middle school soccer clubs from various towns in Tohoku will get the chance to meet their peers in Okayama and build new friendships. During this past week, among other things, we met with some of the middle school soccer clubs that will be joining us in Okayama.


After meeting Principal Kato, we traveled to Shizukawa middle school, and on Thursday we met the Otsuchi team. However, most of the week was dedicated to visiting various shelters and field hospitals and distributing medicine and new supplies. On Tuesday, while we were in Minamisanriku, Ms. Tae Namba, Ms. Tomoko Ohmasa and I met with doctors at the Shizukawa hospital.


On Wednesday, our team traveled to Daitokuin Temple and Otsuchi High School which are now doubling as shelters. At Otsuchi High School, we also met with a newly formed branch, AMDA’s Otsuchi club. High school students from this club will visit Okayama this month to meet AMDA’s Okayama club. On Thursday morning, Ms. Ohmasa and I visited a nursing home in Otsuchi and several other shelters to deliver the remaining supplies.

Activity Summary: AMDA Emergency Relief for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami



Mar. 11: In response to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeast of Japan, AMDA decided to dispatch its first emergency relief team.

Mar. 12: AMDA team left for severely hit Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture and started to deliver medical assistance.

Mar. 15: While part of the team remained in Miyagi, the rest relocated to Kamaishi City and Ohtsuchicho in Iwate Pref. and initiated relief work.

Mar. 19: In response to the request from the worst hit Minamisanriki-cho (Miyagi), AMDA dispatched its relief team to provide medical relief.

Mar. 21: The work in Sendai (Miyagi) was completed (transferred to a local body.)

Mar. 31: The work in Kamaishi (Iwate) was completed (transferred to a local doctors¡Ç association.)

Apr. 20: The work in Minamisanriku-cho (Miyagi) and Ohtsuchicho (Iwate) were completed. While the activities were handed over to local bodies, services such as acupuncture therapy and health assistance have been continued.

Total number of AMDA’s relief personnel (as of Apr. 26th): 148

51 doctors, 33 nurses, 4 midwives, 2 assistant nurses, 3 pharmacists, 2 psychotherapists, 49 coordinators, 2 careworkers, 2 acupuncture therapists

Besides direct medical assistance, AMDA responded to various local needs such as setting up a playroom for children in the evacuation shelters, holding recreational events and nutrition programs as well as providing meals.

In line with the dispatch of medical teams, AMDA sent aid supplies using the hearty funds from its donors all around the world. The relief goods were prepared in response to the request from the local teams and were delivered seven times in total using a chartered-truck. Commercial delivery services were also used after they resumed their regular operations in the devastated regions. The goods included medical supplies, medical devices (electrocardiogram and ultrasound machines), food supplies (rice, vegetables), daily life goods, bicycles, stationery and appliances (washing machines, computers, batter chargers etc.)

The daily operations at the activity sites:

While AMDA teams were stationed at evacuation centers, the teams delivered mobile clinic services to homes and smaller (remote) evacuation shelters in the respective regions. There were far more numbers of patients with stress- related ailments and chronic diseases than those that needed surgical treatments.

Due to the stagnant recovery of lifelines, sanitary conditions got worsened which later developed into the outbreak of norovirus. However, various counter measures such as isolation of infected individuals, thorough sanitization efforts and awareness promotion have succeeded in halting the spread of the disease.

In addition, AMDA sent psychiatrists to help the evacuees that were fatigued both physically and mentally from prolonged evacuation life, and extended a helping hand to those who had been suffering from mental illnesses.

Besides incorporating acupuncture therapy in its services, AMDA also distributed life goods upon mobile clinic services.

In securing the privacy among evacuees in the shelters, AMDA provided partitions for each household, and also sent a medical trailer equipped with individual compartments.

Further scope of assistance:

In line with the recovery of local healthcare systems, AMDA will extend its assistance in the rehabilitation phase. In addition to ongoing acupuncture treatments and health support measures, AMDA will contribute to the rebuilding of local hospitals/medical institutions and provide medical personnel if needed.

AMDA has also set up a three-year scholarship program, starting this year, to back up high school students in the regions (Kamaishi High School, Ohtsuchi High School, Shizugawa High School) who wish to work in the medical field in the future.

Furthermore, a plan is underway for this summer to hold a sport-exchange event, inviting junior high school students from disaster areas to Okayama (home to AMDA). The event hopes to promote mutual understanding and friendship between students from Okayama and those from disaster areas who persevered the hardship.

AMDA Japan shifts to rehabiliation phase.. 25th April 2011


AMDA has now shifted from direct medical to rehabilitation efforts. The medical systems of the are are now back and running and able to cope with the direct medical needs. Relief however will continue into the foreseeable future as needs are still huge. It is hard for many who have not seen the area to comprehend the magnitude of the destruction, social, physical, and infrastructural.

Iwate Prefecture (the town of Ohtsuchicho):

Contrary to the arrival of a warmer season, the northeastern Japan still needs to endure occasional blizzards. And while entire Japan has entered a new school year from April, Ohtsuchi High School in the severely devastated Ohtsuchicho was no exception. In the midst of housing approximately 270 evacuees in the school gym, the school held a general assembly to embark on a new semester. Furthermore, the number of evacuees in the region has relatively decreased as a whole.

As the focus of AMDA’s relief activities shifted towards rehabilitative assistance from emergency medical relief, the team ended its regular medical consultation at the shelter and downsized its medical service solely to acupuncture therapy (mainly held by a locally-hired therapist.)

For the next one month, the heavily damaged Ohtsuchi Hospital will offer medical services temporarily at a local community center. Meanwhile, the work is underway to resume their regular operation at their actual hospital building with new facilities that will allow X-ray, dialysis, blood tests, surgical operations and admission of patients.

Among AMDA team members was a coordinator originally from Ohtsuchicho. Undoubtedly, things would not have gone so smooth without her presence.

Miyagi Pref. (the town of Minamisanriku-cho):

Besides a handover of AMDA’s activities had taken place, the team organized a range of recreational activities for those persevering the prolonged evacuation life.

On Apr. 19th at Shizugawa Elementary School, the team opened “Cafe de AMDA”, a temporary cafe to serve hot chocolate and coffee to the evacuees. The event ended with great success which garnered more 70 visitors in one hour. The air was filled with aromatic fume from authentically brewed paper-drip coffee and some even said it was the first cup of hot chocolate they had after the disaster hit. AMDA staff also baked cookies with children using a temporary oven; the children enjoyed shaping cookie dough and had a fun and tasty time together.

From now on, AMDA will back up Shizugawa Hospital during the rehabilitation phase.

Latest dispatch of AMDA personnel:

27th group: 1 coordinator (Apr. 18th)

28th group: 1 nurse, 2 coordinators (Apr. 20th)

Total number of AMDA’s relief personnel (as of Apr. 18th): 146

50 doctors, 32 nurses, 4 midwives, 2 assistant nurses, 3 pharmacists, 2 psychotherapists, 50 coordinators (including interpreters), 2 careworkers, 1 acupuncture therapist

Tsunami relief: update 11th April 2011


On Apr. 10th a number of volunteers gathered at a local temple in Okayama (home to AMDA) to sort out gifts  to be sent to the disaster victims in Ohstuchicho and Kamaishi City in Iwate Pref. 1,500 sets of gifts  (originally donated by high school students from Hiroshima) will be sent to the afflicted sites on Apr. 11th.

Iwate Prefecture (the town of Ohtsuchicho):

The recovery of electricity had brought back town lights and re-operated traffic lights, however, the power went out again after the earthquake which occurred on Apr. 7th. Many people in the area became very downhearted about this as having electricity restored  had been a very significant point int the recovery process.

Besides the ongoing medical services, AMDA set a playroom for children and also held a little sport event and a movie-viewing to lighten the stress of the evacuees.

Now that 10 % of the elderly are becoming bedridden, the need for nursing is increasing. AMDA is offering blood tests and other medical check in its mobile medical trailer.

Miyagi Pref. (the town of Minamisanriku-cho):

On Apr. 8th a renowned Japanese singer, Takeshi Kitayama, visited Shizugawa Elementary School in response to AMDA’s call for help to ease the suffering of the victims.

After his hearty a cappela performance that arose a touching moment, Kitayama went around the evacuees and gave them warm words of encouragement to show his care.

Minamisanriku-cho still faces the lack of lifelines including water, electricity and gas (as well as gasoline,) however, sign of recovery is yet to be seen. Meanwhile, AMDA will continue to battle the spread of norovirus by sending additional medical personnel and relief supplies.

Latest dispatch of AMDA personnel:

21st group: 2 nurses (Apr. 9th)

22nd group: 2 doctors, 1 nurse, 1 coordinator (Apr. 10th)

Total number of AMDA’s relief personnel (as of Apr. 10th): 128

46 doctors, 26 nurses, 3 midwives, 2 assistant nurses, 3 pharmacists, 2 psychotherapists, 43 coordinators (including interpreters), 2 careworkers, 1 singer

Tsunami relief: update 16: 8th April 2011


Iwate Prefecture (the town of Ohtsuchicho):

AMDA has been continuing medical treatments at the evacuation centers and mobile clinic services in the vicinity. The common ailments include chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes as well as common cold, hay fever, gastroenteritis, tetanus and so on.

In consideration of the prolonged evacuation life, partition walls are now provided to the families in securing privacy.

Also to keep the elderly away from becoming bedridden or economy-class syndrome, gym machines were installed at the evacuation centers to encourage their physical exercise. About fifty people are using the facility on average per day.

Miyagi Pref. (the town of Miamisanriku-cho):

The decline in the number of evacuees is currently seen at Shizugawa Elementary School; the number has decreased from 250 to 200.

Two electric generators were delivered to an evacuation shelter that did not have electricity. From now on they are able to use electricity in the room where norovirus patients have been isolated.

On Apr. 4th AMDA sent one psychiatrist and one nurse to Minamisanriku-cho to provide mental care for the evacuees withstanding this hardship. As there are several evacuees suffering from panic disorders, the need for continuous mental care became visible.

While counter measures for norovirus have been carried out, AMDA decided to send supplies such as bleach and other sanitary goods to reinforce the efforts.

Visit by a famous Japanese singer, Takeshi Kitayama:

As part of AMDA’s assistance, on Apr. 8th AMDA sent a renowned Japanese singer, Takeshi Kitayama to the evacuation center to entertain and ease the fatigue of the evacuees. According to AMDA President Dr. Suganami, music is one of the most effective means to ease their feelings while tough evacuation life continues in the afflicted sites.

His hearty a cappela performance resonated with the hearts of the evacuees, many of them bursted into tears listening to him.

Latest dispatch of AMDA personnel:

19th team: 2 doctors/interpreters, 1 doctor, 1 nurse (Apr. 4th)

20th team: 2 doctors, 2 nurses, 1 assistant nurse, 2 coordinators (Apr. 8th)

Total number of AMDA’s relief personnel (as of Apr. 8th): 121

44 doctors, 23 nurses, 3 midwives, 2 assistant nurses, 3 pharmacists, 2 psychotherapists, 42 coordinators (including assistants and interpreters), 2 careworkers

Japan tsunami relief / rehabiliation: update 15


‘AMDA to Support Local Doctors by Donating Temporary-Clinic Units’

AMDA President, Dr. Shigeru Suganami held a press conference at AMDA Headquarters in Okayama, Japan on 5th April, announcing that AMDA will complete the emergency relief operations in the afflicted areas by the end of April and shift to rehabilitative assistance. The main project in the next stage will be to donate temporary-clinic units to local doctors whose clinic buildings were destroyed or washed away by the catastrophe.

AMDA has already been providing medical care after setting up a mobile-clinic trailer equipped with devices such as intravenous drip (IV) and electrocardiogram (ED). AMDA is also planning to construct two temporary clinics in Ohtsuchi-cho (Iwate Pref.) and Minamisanriku-cho (Miyagi Pref.) respectively. Setting up a temporary clinic (including various medical equipments and supplies) will cost around 10,000,000 yen (about 118,000 USD).

AMDA has heard that there are a number of town doctors who lost their clinics in the tsunami. Dr. Suganami appealed that there is a need of support in the form of a state-run loan offered to the local doctors in rebuilding their daily operations as soon as possible.

Dr. Suganami also reported that AMDA employed twelve locals as drivers, care workers and operational staff. He appreciated their knowledge of local geography and human relationships which greatly helped AMDA’s activities.

From now on, AMDA is going to support the rehabilitation of schools. To begin with, AMDA will give out “back-to-school” kits containing stationery and school bags.

In collaboration with foreign medical organizations, plans are also underway to establish a scholarship program for the local high school students that are aiming to become doctors/nurses in the future.

Tsunami relief: update 14: 5th April 2011: Rehabilitation focus but medical support for the vulnerable

(2011-04-05) In line with the ongoing medical relief, AMDA has started to shift its relief activities to rehabilitative assistance after three weeks have passed since the earthquake struck.
AMDA President, Dr. Shigeru Suganami, who worked in the afflicted site (Iwate Pref.) until Apr. 1st will be holding a press conference on Apr. 5th to report the progress and further scope of AMDA’s relief activities.
Iwate Prefecture (the town of Ohtsuchicho):
No case of norovirus has been reported at the evacuation shelter, however, cases such as fever and dehydration have been increasing. As April is the beginning of a new school year in Japan, due to the reopening of schools some kind of change can be expected at schools that are currently used as evacuation shelters.
Meanwhile, AMDA received a donation of more than 150 book bags for school children from its donors in Okayama Prefecture, home to AMDA. The bags will be sent to Ohtsuchi Elemetary School in Ohtsuchicho, Iwate Pref. on Apr. 11th.
To help AMDA’s activities up and running and also to help create job opportunities, AMDA has hired a total of nine local people in the area which includes a driver, an assistant, a clerk, an acupuncture therapist and so on.
Miyagi Pref. (the town of Minamisanriku-cho):
In response to the inquiry from the Israeli medical team, AMDA has decided to send two additional doctors/interpreters to Minsamisanriku-cho. They are expected to work with the Israeli team in providing coherent medical services for the tsunami survivors.
It is reported that there has been an outbreak of norovirus in Minamisanriku-cho; several patients where also found at Shizugawa Elementary School where AMDA is currently based at. Amongst the patients are of those who will soon be relocated to elsewhere for a mass evacuation, hence AMDA is urgently trying to list them up for further refferal at their destination.
Latest dispatch of AMDA personnel (as of Apr. 5th):
1 midwife (Apr. 2nd), 1 coordinator (Apr. 2nd), 2 careworkers (Apr. 3rd), 2 doctors/interpreters (Apr. 4th)
Total number of AMDA’s relief personnel (as of Apr. 5th): 114
41 doctors, 20 nurses, 3 midwives, 1 assistant nurse, 3 pharmacists, 2 psychotherapists, 40 coordinators (including assistants and interpreters), 4 careworkers

AMDA tsunami relief: update 13: 2nd April 2011


After three weeks have passed since the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami, the climate has become relatively mild from the time when the disaster struck Tohoku and Kanto regions. However, whilst the evacuation life prolongs with the recovery of lifelines stagnant at this stage, more and more people have complained a chronic sick feeling.

Emergency medical needs have decreased as a number of medical teams are now active in the devastated sites. Hence, along with the ongoing medical relief activities, AMDA has begun shifting its target to the highly-demanded elderly nursing from Apr. 1st.

AMDA will be launching a nursing-assistance program in collaboration with a Japanese company specialized in the field. From now on, careworkers will be sent to AMDA’s work site to work with the existing teams; providing the elderly nursing care in rotation.

As of Apr. 1st, from AMDA there are 24 personnel in Ohtsuchicho (Iwate) and 9 personnel in Minamisanriku-cho (Miyagi) respectively.

Iwate Prefecture (the town of Ohtsuchicho):

Along with the regular medical services, one of AMDA doctors started to offer acupuncture treatments at Ohtsuchi High School.

Meanwhile, AMDA and its partners, namely, AMDA Indonesia, MERCY Malaysia, Medipeace (Korea), Bangkok Hospital (Thailand) and Network Chikyumura (Japanese NGO) have decided to launch a scholarship program for the disaster victims.

The scholarship is targeted to the high school students in the disaster-stricken areas who wish to become a doctor in the future. Besides financial assistance for three years, the scholarship aims to provide international cultural exchange opportunities through the support organizations.

Miyagi Prefecture (the town of Minamisanriku-cho):

At Minamisanriku-cho, it is foreseeable that due to the relocation of the residents (1,100 people) the number of evacuees will decrease from now on. At the same time, the medical supplies have been currently fulfilled.

AMDA held a briefing session on norovirus in preparation to the potential risk of breakout as the sanitary condition in the shelter has been deteriorating due to the prolonged evacuation life.

Latest dispatch of AMDA personnel (as of April 1st):

2 careworkers for the nursing-assistance program (Ohtsuchicho, Iwate Pref.) (Mar. 31st)

17th team: 8 personnel (2 doctors, 3 nurses, 1 counselor, 2 coordinators) (Apr. 1st)

Total number of AMDA’s relief personnel as of April 2nd: 108

39 doctors, 20 nurses, 2 midwives, 1 assistant nurse, 3 pharmacists, 2 psychotherapists, 39 coordinators (including assistants and interpreters), 2 careworkers