International Rescue Committee (IRC)

After the tsunami: Helping survivors with disabilities recover

Tomorrow is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

In our work across the United States and around the world the International Rescue Committee addresses the needs of people with disabilities and others who are particularly vulnerable in a disaster. 
More than eight months after a massive earthquake and tsunami ravaged communities along 250 miles of Japan’s northeastern coast, the IRC’s support is continuing to help our partner the Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR) assist survivors with disabilities and others who have had difficulty accessing humanitarian aid. 

AAR is providing a range of assistance including health and rehabilitation related services, psychological care, and events that give isolated survivors a chance to socialize in the community. 
In the first six months after the tsunami struck, AAR delivered food, wheelchairs and other emergency relief supplies to local social service agencies serving the elderly and people with disabilities.  It has also donated vehicles to 12 social service facilities to replace those lost in the disaster so that disabled and elderly participants, as well as their staff, can travel to and from their programs.
As communities slowly recover, AAR is also working with local construction companies to repair and rebuild 60 damaged social service agency facilities. Two of these facilities were renovated with the IRC’s support.  One of them is the Asunaro Home, in the heights above the devastated city of Rikuzentakata. The facility offers people with autism and other mental disabilities opportunities to build vocational skills and earn an income.  

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