Jun 2017


Disaster Resilience Leadership Training For Youth in Kobe

On 3-4 June 2017, PBV conducted a training programme for a group of young alumni of the TOMODACHI program.

21 university students and young professionals gathered for the “TOMODACHI Disaster Resilience Leadership Training” in Kobe. Within this group, more than half of the participants were from Tohoku and had experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake as junior high school students.

The TOMODACHI Initiative, in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, started conducting programs for education, cultural exchange and leadership to connect youth in Japan and the United States. They have reached over 5,700 young people in the past 6 years.

PBV, alongside partner JISP (Japan IsraAID Support Program), implemented this project to enhance alumni leadership skills specifically relevant to disaster response and prevention in Kobe, which was struck in 1995 by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

The first day of training focused on learning about the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Participants had the chance to see pictures and videos taken at the time of the earthquake. Disaster storytellers also shared their first-hand accounts of the disaster, and spoke about the recovery of the area.

Next, the group participated in a joint information session by NPO Plus-Arts about “Iza! Kaeru Caravan!” – a programme for children to learn about disaster prevention in a fun way. In addition to gaining actual disaster prevention knowledge and skills, participants explored how to approach problem-solving and education in a creative way.


In the evening, the participants camped under the stars in tents on the top of Mount Rokko. In addition to other outdoor skills that are useful for disaster relief volunteers, they took on the challenge of cooking outside, similar to soup-kitchen activities. Alumni were talking until late into the evening, while huddled chatting around the campfire.

Day 2 began with a morning workshop on stress management during emergency situations. The lecturer was Mr. Okada, who has experience giving psychological support in different disaster-affected areas. It was an opportunity to learn about communication while simulating stressful scenarios.

In the afternoon, participants were divided into four discussion groups; “Disaster education and Iza! Kaeru Caravan”, “Emotional care at the time of a disaster”, “Youth and university student initiatives”, and “Disaster relief volunteering”. In the fields of disaster prevention, reduction and response, everyone discussed their future goals and presented them.

Amongst the alumni, there were members who will pursue careers in disaster medicine, nursing, and other field related to disaster response. We were able to spend a very rich two days getting excited about the futures of these young leaders. For all of those who were involved and alumni who participated, thank you very much for all of your hard work!