MPower Partners expresses our deepest condolences to those who lost their lives in the Noto Peninsula earthquake, along with utmost sympathies to all those affected by the disaster.
This blog post is a direct translation of our portfolio company Heralbony’s press release, in which they launched their information-sharing website and social media campaign for a more disability-inclusive recovery effort.
Earthquakes and other natural disasters disproportionately affect certain communities, including persons with disabilities. For the first time in COP (Conference of Parties) history, COP28 introduced the Relief, Recovery and Peace Day on 3 December, supported by the COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace1. The nonbinding Declaration calls for “increasing climate action and access to finance for communities and countries threatened or affected by fragility or conflict or facing severe humanitarian needs”. As an island nation with frequent natural disasters, Japan is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this endeavor. We support Heralbony’s efforts to raise awareness and action, and hope that this will ignite some inspiration beyond Japan’s shores.
Below is an English translation of Heralbony’s press release regarding their initiative:
Heralbony Launches “#Don’tIgnoreTheDisabled” Initiative to Deliver Disaster Information for People with Disabilities
A special public website with information for people with disabilities in evacuation shelters
We express our deepest condolences to the victims of the Noto Peninsula Earthquake that occurred in Ishikawa Prefecture on January 1, 2024, and our deepest sympathies to those affected by the disaster.
Heralbony’s mission is to create a world where everyone can “Radiate Your Color Within”.
In this vein, we have created a public website, in light of the Noto Peninsula Earthquake, which compiles guidelines and tips for individuals with disabilities in disaster-affected areas. We have also launched a social media campaign titled “#Don’tIgnoreTheDisabled,” with hopes to spotlight affected people directly through our platform.
2011 Great East Japan Earthquake: Reality for Disabled Individuals
Following the devastation of the Great East Japan Earthquake on January 11, 2011, we saw the reality of over 200 intellectually disabled children and adults moving from one evacuation center to another during the aftermath. Many people with disabilities, both intellectual and developmental, are vulnerable during sudden environmental changes or distress situations and may experience loss of calm, manifesting in panic attacks and verbal outbursts. However, general awareness and acceptance of such characteristics was low, with insufficient disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction showing its scars in the wake of the 2011 Earthquake. Given this backdrop, many disabled individuals were either forced to leave or voluntarily left (out of fear of causing trouble) evacuation centers.
“#Don’tIgnore TheDisabled” Social Media Campaign
We know that there are disabled individuals among those affected by the Noto Peninsula earthquake. In order to deliver critical information regarding disaster areas and evacuation shelters to them, as well as to raise awareness of the state of evacuation for disabled individuals, Heralbony is launching the “#Don’tIgnoreTheDisabled” social media campaign.
・Resource: Disaster Guideline for Individuals with Disabilities
Heralbony has published a website compiling guidelines and other useful information for individuals with disabilities in evacuation centers. The site includes an “Emergency Communication Board”, to improve communication using picture diagrams for those who may not be able to hear, pronounce, or understand words.
Call for social media posts using “#Don’tIgnoreTheDisabled”
We can only imagine what we do not experience ourselves. We call upon not only families of individuals with disabilities but anyone who realizes what information is critically needed, where efforts fall short, etc. on social media. We also hope individuals will use this hashtag to communicate any requests for information that would be useful on our Disaster Guideline website.
Please tag both @heralbony and #Don’tIgnoreTheDisabled to share your input with us.
Heralbony’s official X account: https://twitter.com/heralbony
Our activities and social media campaign are carried out under close consultation with relevant stakeholders, including organizations with individuals with disabilities as members. We are committed to becoming a trustworthy information source, as well as to accelerate our impact by working alongside relevant organizations.
<Please note that the above is a direct translation of their Japanese social media campaign, and the English #Don’tIgnoreTheDisabled will not be read by Heralbony team>
From our Resource Website
“I almost tried to cover my daughter’s mouth with duct tape to stop her screaming,” the parents of a girl with a severe intellectual disability recalled.
After the East Great Japan Earthquake in 2011, the family stayed at an evacuation center, but shortly after, they had to leave the evacuation center to avoid icy stares from the people after nights of distressed screaming.
Many people with disabilities and their families had no other choice but to leave evacuation centers, only to return to dangerous shattered homes or to other family member’s homes due to similar discomfort.
Disabled individuals “vanished” from evacuation centers in 2011.
There is no doubt that following the Noto Peninsula earthquake, individuals with disabilities are particularly distressed and vulnerable during this tumultuous time.
If we can provide appropriate and trustworthy information to those most in need, and promote communication among all individuals during these emergencies – we know that lives could be saved, and that hardships could be overcome together.
May we never ignore the disabled.
1 “COP28 Declaration On Climate, Relief, Recovery And Peace.” Accessed January 18, 2024. https://www.cop28.com/en/cop28-declaration-on-climate-relief-recovery-and-peace.
2 The Asahi Shimbun. “知的障害の子ら２００人、避難先転々 職員「もう限界」.” asahi.com. Accessed January 18, 2024. http://www.asahi.com/special/10005/TKY201103280096.html.