Year-end: Mr. Paul "I have to steel myself for reality"
This is JAR's representative administration officer Eri Ishikawa.
It is already time to send out my regards for the end of the year. We deeply appreciate the support that you have provided us. Without your kind assistance, we would not have been able to continue our support activities.
"I wish that the word 'refugees' will no longer exist in the future. Endurance is strength. I will continue to support your organization."
"We are counting on you. We cannot act by ourselves and can only place hopes for you. We hope for the best in your organization."
At times, we feel at a loss as to where to begin when faced with heaps of issues. It is with your daily warm words of support that has allowed us to devote ourselves to support this year.
The situation of the refugees who are fleeing to Japan has become even harsher in the recent days. Applicants for the refugee status have already surmounted 4500 in number. However, only 3 of our clients have successfully gained the status.
Without any hopes of gaining the refugee status, many of them are forced to lead lives in darkness and uncertainty. Those visiting our office for the first time often have expectations that "they have finally found a light of hope."
However, we must begin the first counseling by informing them of the difficulty of obtaining a refugee status in Japan. The fact that JAR will help, but they must strive for the status themselves to survive in Japan. And how ever much they seek the status, more than 99% are rejected.
First, each applicant must accept this reality. Only then can we begin to assist in the search for ways to live through this situation. Not only do we place a high value on monetary and materialistic support, but also encourage each refugee to face the reality and stride forward.
Mr. Paul(assumed name), from a country in Africa, visited JAR for the first time last month.
He fled his country when his life was put in danger due to his political activities. Since his native language is French and he cannot speak English, it was not easy for him to gain information. It took him several weeks to find out about JAR and spent his days staying at parks until then.
When temperatures dropped steeply and he was stricken by worry and cold that he had never experienced before, he heard about JAR from a passerby of African decent whom he stopped to call for help.
What we had to tell Mr. Paul who had visited our office right away, was the harshness of gaining a refugee status in Japan, and that all the rooms in the JAR shelter were occupied by people of the same situation. We had to ask him to bear life on the streets until his turn came to get a room. With the shock of his shattered expectations, Mr. Paul drooped his shoulders in grief and sobbed and sobbed. He was consumed by dejection so deep that no words seemed to be able to heal his wounds. To ensure that he could face reality as smoothly as possible, we spent several hours by his side, encouraging him. However, he declined our offer of a sleeping bag and food and limply left the office.
From this encounter, we expected it to take a considerable amount of time for Mr. Paul to be able to face forward. However the following day, he entered the office with an expression of renewed determination.
He accepted the sleeping bag, emergency monetary support, and the Survival Handbook with information on how to survive street life. He left his large luggage at JAR and left the office with that renewed air of confidence.
3 weeks thereafter. During the daytime, he visited the office for warmth and to have meals. During the night, he firmly endured the harsh cold. At the end of November, he could finally get a room in the shelter and was able to spend New Years holiday in the warmth.
But the battle has only begun. How to live through the 3 years on average, until he is informed of the results.
And what to do when his application is rejected.
"I have to steel myself for reality," says Mr. Paul.
Although there is funding from public institution for refugee applicants, it takes a considerable time until it is issued. People in need cannot receive the aid when they most need it. 2 months have passed since Mr. Paul applied for the status, but he has not received the funding yet.
Many refugees, who are in the same situation and are waiting for the public funding, reach our office everyday.
103 people have sought for help just this winter. We have been trying to fill the hole in our safety net while calling for improvement of the system, but the support is far from catching up with the current situation.
This is our last request of the year.
We ask for your cooperation to help us enhance our support as much as possible.
JPY3,000 will provide a day's worth of food, transportation fee, and a roof over their heads.
JPY10,000 will let a refugee not covered by health insurance receive one health treatment.
JPY30,000 will pay for one month's living expenses of a refugee family staying in a shelter.
And with your donations, we can continue to work alongside the refugees and support them.
There are refugees who will be saved by your donations.
I appreciate the time you took to read this article during the busy times of New Years.
I wish all of you a peaceful New Years holiday.