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Nepalese TV crew’s experience to be featured in a school textbook

Publication date:2019-07-16
 
By Dr. Archana Shrestha Joshi (AMDA Headquarters)

A horrendous M7.8 earthquake that devastated Nepal on 25 April 2015 claimed the lives of 9,000 people and left more than 23,000 injured. The quake which happened to be the largest in the last 80 years revealed the nation’s vulnerability for the lack of disaster preparedness, not to mention the absence of countermeasures and capacity to minimize the risks. Nepalese media were no exception in this regard: Despite of their utmost effort, they were neither well prepared against natural calamities.

When the quake struck, AMDA President Dr. Suganami’s visit to Nepal led to the destined encounter with Image Channel, a local broadcasting station that aired his interview on TV. This later brought its crew to Japan to undergo emergency training which provided them with a learning opportunity to ponder on the roles of media at the time of natural disasters. RSK, an Okayama-based TV station, helped set up the deal on the receiving end.

The crew comprising three staff from Image Channel visited Japanese media companies upon arriving, and learned how media firms should be prepared for crisis. They also travelled to Otsuchicho in Iwate Prefecture which was heavily hit by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, followed by the visit to the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI) in Kobe, and Okayama City Fire Department.  

The crew learned the following principles of disaster preparedness: 1) “You are responsible for your own life”, 2) “Support mutually with your neighbours”, and 3) “Government and municipality are aid givers”. All this while, they came to understand that the priority is to enhance the awareness of local residents toward disaster prevention. Furthermore, as community disaster drills in Japan also target children, they realized disaster education should begin at an early age.

After returning to Nepal, the crew shared what they gained in Japan with their colleagues and created a TV programme which featured the roles of Japanese TV and radio stations at the time of the said 2011 catastrophe. It showed how well the Japanese media outlets are prepared and how Japanese fire brigades work. The programme also invited Nepalese experts from different sectors such as education, medicine, media and volunteering to partake in a panel discussion. It was televised as a 25-episode series and garnered a high reputation for its meaningful contents that increased the public awareness on this very topic.


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Later on, one of the crew members, Mr. Thakur Belbase, wrote an essay entitled “The Land of Rising Sun” for a primary school textbook used by fourth-year pupils in the Nepali language. The below is an excerpt from his prose in which he explicated his experience in Japan.
 

Mr. Thakur Belbase (author):

What came into my sight was all sea when the plane was about to land at Kansai International Airport. “Where are we landing?” I asked anxiously to my fellow crew member Mr. Nabin, the cameraman. Ms. Anupa who was overhearing our conversation just smiled silently. After the plane landed successfully, I couldn’t help but ask the following question to Dr. Archana Shrestha Joshi who came to pick us up at the airport: “Is the airport located somewhere close to the ocean?” I said. I was utterly flabbergasted when she responded, “The entire airport is on the reclaimed land.”

Ever since our country was hit by the earthquake on 25 April 2015, we get to hear a lot about huge earthquakes and tsunami Japan had experienced in recent years. My purpose of coming to Japan was to learn about natural calamities. Although Japan is a quake-prone nation, I came to realize that people in Japan are both physically and mentally well-prepared for potential risks posed by disasters.

Recalling what our country went through in 2015, my visit to Iwate Prefecture (which was devastated by the 2011 catastrophe) provoked painful memories. However, I was surprised to learn that the Japanese government delivered aid to every emergency shelter within 24 hours after the quake struck. It is said that the authority had swiftly coordinated the provision of medical goods, food items and places to stay in a coherent manner. Although it had only been four years from the calamity, I saw the town bringing itself back to life. People were trying to rebuild residences in which they were safe enough to live.

Ms. Sugaya, who works for AMDA Otsuchi Health Centre, was one of the keen donors who launched a fundraiser when our country was hit by the quake. Likewise, Ms. Ohkubo (who works with Ms. Sugaya) said she was glad to be able to offer help while expressing her love for Nepal.

At the time of 1995 Hanshin Awaji Earthquake in west Japan, the beautiful townscape of Kobe City had totally been destroyed. The photos I saw at the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI) in Kobe left a deep impression on me, realizing how quickly the reconstruction and transformation took place after the catastrophe. I must say the Japanese are skilled at recreating disaster-torn cities to another level, making them even more beautiful than what they used to be. DRI boasts a number of visitors every year and has played an important role in providing disaster education to both the young and the old.

The Japanese take natural disasters as something unavoidable. Based on the belief that “there is a life that can be saved”, they thoroughly conduct disaster training and education on a daily basis. Every place we visited had a disaster training manual and emergency food items ready. In my eyes, they are always on standby to confront possible calamities.

“The Land of Rising Sun” is known to be an island country. But the reality is there are lots of mountains and hills. Instead of making roads by excavating the mountain surface, the Japanese dig tunnels to let the roads run through. Looking at those mountains made me feel as if I were in Nepal. And last but not least, I was proud of the fact that I came from the birthplace of Buddha every time I came across a Buddhist temple in Japan.

People in Japan seemed to be so diligent that they have no time to think about anything other than work. They, who made their way up to become one of the world’s most developed nations, are really hardworking and kind. When I saw them bowing their heads to each other, I thought it was a unique custom. That influenced me to do the same whenever I met someone during the week. What struck me was the group of people called “social recluse” who are staying unemployed in spite of their capabilities to work. I don’t think they are getting enough support from their family or society, though.
   
Disaster response, preparedness and prevention were what we learned during our trip. All of this could not have made possible without the wholehearted support from AMDA and RSK. I would like to credit Dr. Archana (AMDA), Mr. Hiroshi Takeda (RSK) and Mr. Shinichi Nakamura (RSK) for accompanying us on our journey. I highly admire their persistence in putting up with us whenever questions arose among ourselves.

I have to say it was unarguably a worthwhile trip. If everyone in our country treats Nepal as if it were one’s home and committed oneself to its further prosperity, I am sure our country will develop as much as Japan.

Dr. Archana and Mr. Nakamura came to send us off at the airport. Waving their hands, they told us to spread the knowledge we gained to the people of Nepal.  

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Comments:

 

Mr. Kenichi Hara, Chairman, RSK

“We accepted the Nepalese crew after getting an inquiry from Dr. Suganami asking to provide assistance to the quake-hit nation. As a broadcasting station, we thought our experience and expertise in documentary production and disaster reporting could be useful for them. In order to inculcate the importance of disaster preparedness to the crew, we worked with our fellow TV stations in the west and the north of Japan, both of which experienced a large-scale calamity in the past. The responsibility lies with media outlets in conveying precise information to the locality so as to save citizens’ lives. Making disaster reporting our priority, we strive to be the most trustworthy broadcasting station in our region.”
 

Mr. Hiroshi Takeda, RSK

“As a TV station, we could have done more to save our quake victims,” the words of regret which Mr. Thakur Belbase uttered reminded us once again the very meaning of disaster reporting. I sincerely hope that their experience in Japan will lead to helping the people of Nepal in the future. Meanwhile, as a local broadcasting company we will try to do as much as we can to protect the people of Okayama.”
 

Mr. Shinichi Nakamura, Cameraman, RSK

“We are pleased to learn that Thakur-san and the crew’s experience has uplifted the public consciousness toward disaster prevention in Nepal. I made my first disaster reporting 24 years ago at the time of Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in west Japan. Working in the same industry, both of us need to keep honing our knowledge and skills while putting them into practice along the way. Please do your part in saving as many people as possible.”  
 

Mr. Mohan Chandra Singh, Vice President, Image Channel

Thanks to AMDA and RSK’s kind assistance, three of our staff were able to visit Japan to learn the country’s disaster education and prevention. It was a remarkable deed when they put together a TV programme based on this topic upon their return. I am confident that it has raised our people’s awareness toward natural calamities. I am also happy that the story is now featured in a school textbook.”
 

Ms. Anupa Shrestha, Image Channel

“The fact that our story was featured in a school textbook brought me tremendous joy. Through our experience, children in our country will learn how disaster prevention is regarded in Japan. I feel honoured to be part of the crew and would like to thank AMDA and RSK for providing us with such a precious opportunity.”


 
    •  Nepal
    •  2019
    •  ER & Reconstruction

 
 
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