Saturday 19 November 2011

Singapore Red Cross completes reconstruction project in Japan

By Michiyo Ishida, Channel NewsAsia, 16 Nov 2011

Miyako, Iwate Prefecture Japan: Foreign aid of more than 17.5 billion yen poured into Japan in response to the massive disaster which happened in March.

Singapore is one of the countries quick to provide support to the areas badly affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

And eight months on, it's continuing to commit to the recovery efforts with the opening of a facility for the elderly.

A ribbon cutting ceremony marked the opening of a new temporary facility for the elderly in the tsunami hit district of Taro.

It was attended by officials from the Singapore Red Cross, the Singapore Embassy in Tokyo, Iwate Prefecture and Miyako City.

The facility was built at a cost of S$1 million, out of a total S$35 million collected in Singapore between March and April. It's equipped with a kitchen, bathing areas, a toilet, a massage chair and bed for those who are disabled.

Lim Theam Poh, Director of Operations & Head of International Services, Singapore Red Cross, said: "I must say I am very, very pleased with the facility and the money spent on the first project.

"Indeed the workmanship is excellent. The facilities are elderly friendly."

There were some elements in the facility that are clearly Singaporean such as the photos of the Merlion and the Singapore Flyer. On the exterior of the building, a red line has been drawn to reflect the Singapore flag.

Shogo Tsugawa, Parliamentary Secretary of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, said: "This project went very well. We were able to form (such facility from) the generosity from Singaporeans."

This is believed to be the first facility built from foreign aid and the locals are looking forward to using it.

An elderly woman said: "I'm worried about my health but I don't want to always visit the hospital. So, I come here. If there's something wrong with me, I can be (taken care of) so I look forward to coming by."

This support centre is near three temporary housing blocks with 400 residents.

Within 10 km, there are another 200 households. Considering the fact that more than 30 per cent of the residents are over 65 years old, a facility devoted to assisting them is important.

Singapore Red Cross intends to support the construction of permanent facilities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima including multi purpose halls and a nursery.

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