Singapore's Mercy Relief steps up to help those hard-hit by deadly deluge in western Japan

Mr Masahiro Ishizeki, senior manager for Mercy Relief's international programmes, visits an evacuation centre at Nima Elementary School in Kurashiki, Japan, on July 13, 2018.
Mr Masahiro Ishizeki, senior manager for Mercy Relief's international programmes, visits an evacuation centre at Nima Elementary School in Kurashiki, Japan, on July 13, 2018.ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM

KURASHIKI (OKAYAMA) - Some displaced residents in Mabi district got to enjoy somen noodles with Japanese fried chicken and curry last week, thanks to Singapore-based disaster relief group Mercy Relief and a local partner.

Mercy Relief, which has a fund-raising drive in Singapore until Aug 11 to help the local hard-hit communities, is working with the Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR) to prepare hot meals for the evacuees at Nima Primary School.

Many in Mabi district, where 50 people died as a 3 metre-high torrent of floodwater gushed in when the banks of two rivers were breached on July 6, are still unable to stay in their flood-hit homes, which do not have stable water and electricity supply.

"We identify the local needs and how to bring this to the people," Mr Masahiro Ishizeki, 54, senior manager for Mercy Relief's international programmes, told The Straits Times on Friday (July 13).

Some priorities for Mercy Relief, he added, are to work with local partners with proper financial accountability and to ensure that there is "no duplication" with the work done by other non-governmental organisations so as to ensure the affected can fully benefit.

His interactions with the displaced also help to give a better idea of what happened and what needs to be done going forward. For three hours on Friday morning, he went to the home of a Mabi resident to help clean up the debris.

Mr Ishizeki, who was born in Chiba prefecture next to Tokyo and is married to a Singaporean, has experience in humanitarian work in Cambodia.

 
  • Members of the public can donate to Mercy Relief's efforts to help hard-hit communities via any of the following channels until Aug 11:

    1) A credit card donation at www.mercyrelief.org

    2) A crossed cheque made out to "Mercy Relief Limited" with "Japan Floods 2018 Relief" and e-mail address written on the back of the cheque, and mailed to Blk 160, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #01-1568, Singapore 310160

    3) Cash donations at Blk 160, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #01-1568, Singapore 310160

    4) Fund transfer to Mercy Relief's DBS Current Account 054-900741-2

    5) The crowdfunding page at www.giving.sg/mercy-relief/japanfloods2018

He has been with Mercy Relief for seven years, since he relocated to Singapore.

It is the second time Mercy Relief has worked with AAR - the first was after the Kumamoto earthquakes that struck in 2016. A magnitude 6.2 tremor was followed two days later by a magnitude 7.0 quake, collectively killing 267 people and injuring more than 2,800 others.

"It's very challenging work, but you've made a difference when the people who are affected can smile and say, 'thank you'," Mr Ishizeki said.

Their work has made a difference to a displaced family, who declined to give their names. But they told The Straits Times at the Nima Primary School evacuation centre that they were thankful for the support being provided.

"Without the food, the water, the shower facilities, the donated supplies, we wouldn't have known what to do," said a 62-year-old woman, whom was with her 32-year-old son and his wife.

Mercy Relief executive director Paul Long said in a news statement last week: "We are supporting those displaced from homes with immediate needs - food and nutrition while we continue to assess further needs.

"As we closely monitor the situation with our ground partner, we hope to assist in aiding their recovery as well."