East Great Earthquake Fukushima Sou-Sou project report 9
This time, I would like to deliver the report on the local medical activities of the “Medecins du Monde Japan” that were conducted in Kawauchi Village, Fukuoka Prefecture in November, 2014.
Accompanying the lifting of warning from the restricted areas in April, 2012, the residents of Kawauchi Village, Fukushima, started to return. However, in reality, only about 50% of the population before the earthquake returned, due to the fact that the infrastructure for living had not been adequately improvement. This was attributed to the fact that even though the administrative functions had returned, most of the medical, commercial facilities and high schools had remained in the neighboring Tomioka-machi and Okum-machi which even now have remained the designated regions for those who have difficulties to return to their native villages, due to the nuclear plant accident. Therefore, in many families, only their elderly returned to their native village.
Being placed in an isolated environment, the number of these elderly who started to manifest dementia have become striking. The Medecins du Monde Japan dispatched psychiatrists to the village and implemented discussion sessions with those suffering from dementia, or those suspected of the same, and with their families. They have been carrying out “enlightenment activities” to enable the residents of the village to engage with those with dementia. On November 21, the course, (class session), to consider dementia for the students of Kawauchi Village Middle School was implemented by the Fukushima Cocoro no Care Center, the Health and Welfare Division of Kawauchi Village, in collaboration with three members of the Medecins du Monde Japan.
The contents of that course were organized with the following objectives: “Enabling the students to engage themselves with those suffering from dementia with the correct understanding of their disease, so that they are free of discrimination and prejudices”;”enabling the students to have hands-on experience so as impress on them the importance of acquiring the understanding and of providing the support for the realization of a region where even if one should become a dementia patient, one could live with peace of mind. ”
To begin with, in the introduction section of this course, Suimei Morikawa, (a psychiatrist), of the Medecins du Monde Japan, provided the motivation. Following that procedure, the students carried out the role play, (accompanied by reflections), of engaging in the conversation with the elderly who were playing the role of dementia patients and their families. They were asked to report on their experience and results. That process provided them with an opportunity to learn how they ought to engage themselves with those suffering from dementia.
I felt that during the 70-minute class, the students, while being supervised by the teachers, were able to acquire the hands-on experience to learn the proper ways to associate with the elderly who were suffering from dementia, by enthusiastically engaging in role play and reflections. As part of the Kawauchi Village supporters, the Medecins du Monde Japan plans to continue its “enlightenment activities” related to dementia, such as these. It believes that its endeavors were meaningful ones, constituting the first steps in realizing the prayers of the residents of Kawauchi Village, the prayer to be able to return to their village and to live with peace of mind, even if they should come down with dementia.
（*）These activities are being implemented by the “Living Together” Funds of the Japan Platform.
Coordinator, Fukushima Sou-Sou project