Past and Current activities
In early 1985, SHARE with JVC (Japan International Volunteer Center), our senior sister organization, started an emergency medical relief operation in northern part of Ethiopia where many people suffered and lost their lives due to severe drought and famine situation. The project continued for a whole one year and we took care of more than 50 thousand people in a make-shift field hospital.
Health Care Assistance to homeless people in Tokyo
Many seasonal workers from northern agricultural region in Japan came to urban centers like Tokyo as migrant day-laborers and contributed greatly to the reconstruction of post-war Japan from 1960s through 1980s. Many of them lived in hundreds of flop-houses called 'Doya', literally cheap inns and worked very hard 3D jobs (Dangerous, Dirty, Dire). Some of them eventually lost contact with their families back home and got homeless. From 1984, some SHARE members, on individual basis, started to cooperate with local NPO in Sanya district and to extend medical help to those in poor health and this activity continues to this day.
As stated earlier, SHARE's founding members were greatly shocked by atrocities committed by the Pol-Pot regime (1984-1979) in Cambodia and we started our relief MCH (Mother and Child Health) activity jointly with JVC from 1988. We continue our community health and MCH projects in several provinces in Cambodia until present day. We are currently active in Preah-Vihear province, far-northern part of the country.
As far as PHC is concerned, Thailand was and still is a model country for us and we have been eager to learn from Thai people's experience and their innovative approaches in health matters.
In 1990, our registered nurse Ms. Fumiko Kudo, by the invitation of Dr. Samrung Yangratoke, then CDC zone 7 director, entered Yasothon Province in the North-East (Isan) and started a community-based diarrheal disease reduction project with rural residents, including Village Health Volunteers, through PRA method.
From 1994, we started HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness raising project in two provinces in Isan (Amnat-Charoen and Ubon-Ratchathani ).
Gradually we shifted our focus to formation of self-help groups by HIV positive persons themselves by properly utilizing ARVs in the aim of regaining their health and empowering the community.
In 2015, SHARE's offshoot organization, HSF (Health SHARE Foundation) became independent as a local NGO in Khemarat district, Ubon province and currently active in helping migrant workers from Laos keep their health condition and their human rights intact.
Soon after the popular referendum on independence and ensuing military unrest in1999, SHARE entered with other international NGOs to extend medical assistance to people of Timor-Leste. We owe very much to the cooperation by Dr. Dan Murphy of Bairo Pite clinic in Dili during that critical period. Since 2002, we moved to Health Education sector, especially School Health Education and PHC in Ermera, Aileu and Dili successively. Currently we are active in two districts in Dili province.
From 2005, jointly with JVC we started HIV/AIDS project in Limpopo province, South-Africa for three years. As a country seriously affected by AIDS epidemic, the country needed and still needs community support and solidarity, including home-care and nutritional program, drug literacy and so forth. We collaborated with local CBOs/NPOs and helped train caregivers. Due to financial and other reasons, we retreated from this project but JVC still continues its involvement in South Africa.
Health Promotion activity for Foreign Migrant People in Japan
Dr. Takashi Sawada and other colleagues in SHARE started health counselling and supportive activities to foreign migrant workers in 1992. That was a 'watershed' period for our society. Due to the rapidly aging demographic trend and declining workforce population that took place in Japan, our government changed its immigration law/policy in 1990 and a lot of young migrants were introduced to Japan from many third-world countries. But their worker's right, social security, health insurance and language education were not duly guaranteed and many serious incidents and contraventions occurred.
With more and more so-called 'specified skilled workers' from overseas are expected to flow in to Japan from 2019 for years to come, in such sectors as nursing care, construction industry, fishery, hotel industry and agriculture, we as Japanese civil society must collectively see to it that those new comers' fundamental human rights be protected.
Now that many foreigners have settled in Japan, get married and form new families, it is becoming more important for us to pay attention to the health and wellbeing of mothers and children who have residential status. We have started new program for them with mothers from foreign countries themselves, public health nurses and other stakeholders in the community.
Emergency health assistance to peoples in Kobe and Kesennuma
Japan is known for its natural and man-made disaster-prone character. In 1995, we experienced in Kobe city and Hanshin area major earthquake and more than 5000 people lost their lives there. During that period SHRE, along with other NGO community, dispatched health workers for 1 year to support community to get back to its feet.
In March 11, 2011, catastrophic disaster of Tsunami and Nuclear Power Plant accident hit North-Eastern part of Japan. Almost 20 thousand people perished. We entered Kesennuma city, a famous port town for fishery industry, cooperated with local government and numerous medical groups which also came to provide assistance and we worked together with them for several months. Later on we helped a new local NPO, 'Project K' come into being.
Where we stand now and our future direction
Although we, as a civic organization, were born in Japan, we have never wanted to be a nationalistic, narrow-minded association. We want to be an inclusive, gender-equal and egalitarian NGO that happens to be rooted in Japan. Our society is now facing serious political, economic, social, demographic and ecological problems that could be even more critical in the coming decades.
SDGs, including UHC, if applied flexibly but coherently to our real social situations, could induce a major catalytic, positive change in Japan and help alleviate the current gridlock we are entangled in. In order to make it happen, we need to cooperate with various civil society organizations both domestic and overseas.
In that respect we think it important to keep and develop our ties and network with like-minded groups as PHM.
(May 7, 2019, compiled by toru honda and sawada takashi)