Supporting the Earthquake Survivors at Kamaishi The Worsening Mental Health Situation and Need for Immediate Care

Oe Hiroshi, Secretary General of Japan Overseas Christian Medical Cooperative Service
JOCS has cooperated with health-medical activities in the
developing countries for a half century. Immediately after
the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake, we started support
activities for the survivors. In March, we cooperated with
Emmaus, Tohoku Disaster Relief Center of the Kyodan; in
April, our major activities were transferred to Kamaishi;
and by the end of May, we made the rounds to give medical
services at three shelters, including during the night.
As local medical service systems fortunately began to be
operated after June, we shifted our activities from medical
care to preservation of health. After July, cooperating
with the “Care of Mind” team of Caritas Japan, which
is centered in the Kamaishi Catholic Church, we have
continued visiting care of the residents of the temporary
housing facilities, as well as in isolated villages, sending
counselors every month and a nursing team once every two
months.
When I visited Kamaishi for the first time in the beginning
of May, I was overwhelmed by grievous experiences and
outcries of the people who had suffered deep psychological
wounds and who suffered from guilty feelings that only
they had survived. Toward the end of August, when I
visited there with the first nursing team, I found in the
temporary housing both those who had made a home there
as well as those who had lost a sense of human relations
and were suffering from the sense of isolation. The latter
group showed such symptoms as emotional disorders,
alcoholism, depression, and insomnia. The nursing team
has been visiting every person who met them in the shelter
but moved to the temporary housing or went back to the
isolated villages, to talk intimately with them for an hour,
measuring blood pressure and taking pulses.
Toward the end of November, the second nursing team
visited the survivors in their homes in the isolated
village on a peninsula about a forty-five minutes’ drive
from Kamaishi. Some 150 or so houses and some 300
inhabitants were there, but 56 lives were lost in the
tsunami. Inside the warm and carefree smiling faces of
the survivors who welcomed us, the deep scars of their
hearts could be painfully felt. Each of them described for
us the detailed conditions of the day of the earthquake and
afterwards; the horrific scenes they described were beyond
description. They were isolated after the earthquake, and
were somehow saved by the rescue helicopters. Such
suffered areas of Tohoku are dotted with many areas that
have few conveniences and lack basic medical facilities.
In the season of snow and ice, these spots may become
“isolated islands of the land.”
As to counseling activities, we have sent JOCS counselors
to “Base Philia” (from the Greek word for brotherly love)
and “Mobile Philia,” organizations of the Kamaishi Branch
of Caritas Japan, and are working with the survivors
through these organizations. “Philia” is the name given
to this ministry for psychological care. “Base Philia” is a
free café which the survivors can visit anytime they like.
“Mobile Philia” is a volunteers’ activity to visit temporary
housing and listen to their stories while sharing a cup of
tea. We realize the significance of listening to griefs of the
people.
Working together with the Kamaishi Branch of Caritas
Japan, “visiting care” as well as “psychological care” will
be ongoing. I think that it is to unite “care” and “cure.”
The motto we have, “Living Together,” that we use in our
activities abroad, is one that is appropriate for the disaster
areas in this country as well. We recognize the importance
of acting with the spirit of “Go to the People.” (Tr. AY)
Summarized by Nishio Misao, member
Suginami Church, West Tokyo District and
KNL Editorial Committee member
Based on a Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), February 2012
2012-

被 災者支援 釜石の現場から―――深刻化する心の問題、急がれる「ケア」

大 江 浩(おおえ ひろし)

日本キリスト教海外医療協 力会(JOCS)総主事

 

JOCSは半世紀にわたり途上国での保健医療協力活動をしてきました。しか し、昨年の東日本大震災の直後(3月中旬)から、東日本大震災の被災者支援を開始しました。支援の内 容は、日本キリスト教団東北教区被災者支援センター・エマオへの協力活動を皮切りに、4月には釜石に根拠を移し、5月末まで三つの避難所での夜間も含む巡回診察を行いました。

幸い6月 以降は地元の医療体制が整い始めたので、医療から保健ケアへと活動をシフトしました。7月からはカトリック釜石教会を拠点としたカリタス釜石の「心のケ ア」チームに協力する形で、毎月のカウンセラー派遣や約二ヶ月に一回の看護チーム派遣をして仮設住宅や孤立集落の在宅被災者訪問ケア を続けています。

5月初旬に初めて被災地・釜石を訪れたとき、私は、生々しい悲惨な情景は勿論ですが、心に傷を負っている方々、生き 残ったゆえの罪責感に苦しむ方々、それぞれの悲痛な体験と叫びに圧倒されました。そして8月下旬に第一回看護チームの活動に同行しました。仮設住宅には、落 ち着かれた方々と、逆に人間関係を失い孤立感を深めた方々がいました。その人たちにはストレス障がい、アルコールなどの依存症、抑う つや睡眠障がいなどさまざまな症状が現れていました。看護チームは、避難所で知り合った方々で、その後仮設住宅へ移られたり、孤立集 落へ戻られた被災者を一軒一軒訪ねて、血圧を測り、脈をとりながら一時間かけてじっくりお話しをうかがうことをしています。

11月下旬に第二回看護チームの活動が行われ、釜石から車で45分ほどの半島にある孤立集落の在宅被災者の方々を訪問しました。その地区は約百数十軒・三百人が住む小さな集落 で、うち39人が津波の犠牲となり17人が行方不明のままでした。私たちを歓迎してくださる被災者たちの、温かく屈託のない笑顔の内側にある傷跡の深さ に痛みを覚えました。被災者の方々は口々に震災当日や直後の様子を語ってくださり、その生々しさ、凄まじさは筆舌に尽くしがたいもの でした。震災後孤立し、ヘリコプターの移送によりどうにか助かったのでした。このような東北の被災地には、暮らしの面でも医療・保健 の面でも不便・不自由な所が多く点在しています。積雪・凍結の時期には「陸の孤島」になる恐れがあります。

カウンセラーの働きとしては、カリタス釜石の「ベースふぃりあ」 「移動ふぃりあ」にJOCSのカウンセラーを派遣し、その活動を通じて、様々 な被災者の傍らに寄り添っています。「ふぃりあ」とは心のケアのためのサロンスペースのことで、教会に設けられた「ベースふぃりあ」 は、いつでも被災者が来ることが出来る無料のカフェ、「移動ふぃりあ」は仮設へ出向いてお茶を飲みながら被災者のお話をうかがう傾聴 ボランティア活動です。私たちは悲しみを傾聴することの大切さを実感しています。

カタリス釜石との協働によって看護チームの「訪問ケア」、そして 「心のケア」の活動は今後も続きます。それは“Care(看護、介護)”と”Cure”(治 療)”とをつなぐ役目であると私は思います。そして私たちの海外活動である「みんなで生きる」は、国内の被災地にも通じる願いです。 私たちは、地元特有の言葉や文化、精神性を尊重し、”Go to the People(人びとの中へ)”の精神をもって活動することの大切さを今一度かみしめています。

(「信徒の友」2012年2月号より要約)

KNL編 集委員

西尾操