living well

Why I bother

20 Comments 18 March 2011

japan tsunami map

If you've been to a coastal village or town anywhere in the world, imagine it completely gone now--wiped out in an hour. That's what has happened to over 1300 miles of coastline in Japan.

The thing that prompts me to send money to support relief efforts in Japan is not the knowledge that Japan was one of the first to send one of the largest amounts to help Haiti, the United States (Hurricane Katrina) and other crisis hit countries in the past.

It is also not the knowledge that even though it is a developed country with well organised resources and solid infrastructure and plans for emergencies like this the country still needs international help with the initial, intense crisis.

What prompts me to help in the small way that I can is remembering that it’s not just a country that is in crisis, but individuals (like you and me) who are going through the worst hell they could ever imagine and need help. When you’re in that position, every little bit of help does count.

Here’s some options in case you’re looking for any:

Interesting map

How to help Japan right now

Red Cross (UK)

Save the Children

Google Crisis Response (with a link to the Japanese Red Cross)

Paypal links to Save the Children, Global Giving, Hands On and the American Red Cross


Your Comments

20 Comments so far

  1. Star says:

    Indeed! Very helpful.

  2. LJB @ crankymonkeys in london says:

    Thank you for the reminder to donate. I always like it when charities make it easy with PayPal :)

    • Michelloui says:

      I know, PayPal does make things so much easier. But people shouldn’t feel obligated to donate (and I hope I didn’t come across like that)–there was a time in my life that paying for myself and my daughter’s everyday living was difficult enough!

  3. Expat Mum says:

    Great post. I got so annoyed the other day when there was a Tweet going around saying not to give to religious charities because they were trying to convert the Japanese and just looking for opportunities to proselytize (sp?). For feck’s sake – I believe one, small, rather conservative organization here may have alluded to “opportunities” but the bigger charities, like Catholic Charities and World Vision, are interested only in helping the victims. They have the people and the knowledge to be of far greater help than smaller organizations and I’m sure that converting people isn’t even on their agenda at the moment.

    • Michelloui says:

      I hadn’t heard about that tweet. I suppose there’s always something like that in these big events– by ‘like that’ I mean both the negative stories as well as people taking advantage of the situation (even if they think it’s for the ‘good’ of the people). You’re right, it is always best to stick with the big organisations with things like this.

  4. Totally agree on the big organisations esp in cases like these as you say they have the expertise and man-power to be of most help. Tend to opt for Save the Children or Red CRoss in situations like these and Medcines Sans Frontier in war torn places…

    • Michelloui says:

      Yes, those examples make sense. It is frustrating though. I remember reading a blog written by a woman who lives in Kenya (a British expat, can’t remember who now) who worked with one of the big aid organisations (again, I forget which!) and saw how the money was used–a huge amount was spent on a top heavy management structure of the local office of the organisation. It’s so hard to know what to do, but overall, I suspect the big organisations are safest.

  5. I couldn’t agree more Michelle. There is a belief out there that they don’t need financial help because they are a first world country. In fact, their government was carrying a huge amount of debt, just like the U.S. so they aren’t as well off as appearances may have us believe. And even after all the preparations they made for such a disaster, in their wildest imaginations they could not have foreseen a 9.0 earthquake followed by a tsunami, followed by a near nuclear meltdown. They need our help, period.

    • Michelloui says:

      We are slowly turning into a more giving world, which is nice. And good. And reassuring!

  6. Stacy says:

    Michelle, thank you for posting this! Like Smitten, I’ve seen some “don’t give to Japan, they’re wealthy” info out there, and it’s really stunned me. True, Japan is no Pakistan or Haiti, but I can’t believe that any disaster relief organization could be so flush as to cope with triple disasters of this magnitude. I remember how moving it was after Hurricane Katrina to hear of people in other countries sending money to the US, when technically we’re a pretty wealthy country, too… At some point we give to express our solidarity, our sense of shared humanity.

    (That said, I do think some of the commenters were wise to suggest leaving contributions as open-ended as possible, so that the NGO’s can use them where needed in response to changing ground conditions.)

  7. Really well said. It helps to donate because otherwise I feel so powerless… we are so far away from the heartbreak and devastation…

  8. Joy says:

    Well said, Michelle. There is a lot of suffering going on in Japan right now, and I do find it annoying that some people are reluctant to give money to help out. The Japanese are quite stoic, and are not the type to beg for help, but that doesn’t mean we can just turn our backs on them. I think the Western media should also start focusing on the victims who are out in the freezing cold right now, with barely any food and just flimsy shelters to protect them, instead of trying to scare the hell out of the public with exaggerated reports on the nuclear plant crisis in Fukushima.


    My Minnesotan friend Taylor is living in Japan at the moment. He’s been there 2 years teaching English. He’s written several blog posts on his experiences which I thought I would share.

  10. Mrs. Tuna says:

    So much devestation, how frightened they must be with the destruction and now radiation concerns.

  11. Sarah B says:

    Part of what I do in my doctoral studies is work on disaster mitigation and post-disaster relief. Even though my primary research is economic development often that comes on the heels of a disaster. Tulane (where I’m in school) runs multiple programs one of which is a MA in Disaster Resilience — (being a New Orleans institution they are well-positioned to do so…) and Tulane also runs the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy which monitors, evaluates and researches disasters.

    They update every 2 days what is occurring on the ground during a disaster, in particular who (which aid organizations) is there and what they are doing. I’m just passing this along because I know people often don’t know ‘where’ to donate or know what the aid organizations or doing. Here’s a start.

    The March 19th Report says the following:

    Save the Children (SC) is  working out of Sendai to help children affected by the disaster and setting up child-friendly spaces, including play areas with supervision to give parents time to find food, work, accommodations, and location of missing persons.

    Oxfam Japan  will channel funds to the Japan Organization for International Cooperation on Family Planning (JOICFP). Together with the Japanese Midwives’ Association and local doctors, the groups will help breast-feeding mothers by providing them with privacy and their babies with diapers and other products. They are offering counseling to women under high stress.

    World Vision is working with the local authorities who are organizing non-governmental assistance and helping assess which items are most needed by displaced survivors. Distribution operations begin on Friday 18 March, in Minami Sanriku, a devastated town where 9,600 people have been displaced into 40 shelters. Japanese authorities organized the distribution, which is near Tome City. The supplies are to reach 6,000 people, and items to be distributed include:
    – 4,500 blankets
    – 130,000 sanitary supplies/wipes for children
    – 100,000 sanitary napkins for women
    – 4,800 bottles of water
    (in addition to small initial distributions of baby food and warm baby coats)

    CARE is sending a convoy of vehicles packed with relief items to Iwate prefecture in northern Japan to assist people affected by the disaster CARE will distribute relief items including toilet paper, water, face masks, sanitary tissues, biscuits, fruit and small portions of rice. CARE also will be coordinating with other organizations and local governments to assist people there in need for the next 12 to 18 months.

    Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has a 12-person team, operating out of an established base in Tome (northern Miyagi Prefecture), These groups are providing medical services to Oshima Island and Minami Sanriku evacuation centers, as well as Kesennuma in North Miyagi prefecture.

    The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reported 439,337 people are being housed in 2,457 evacuation centers, mostly schools and other public buildings.

    The Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) currently has 85 medical teams operating out of hospitals and mobile clinics treating survivors. Each team includes a trained psychosocial nurse, who allows survivors to voice their grief and anxieties, as well discuss practical concerns. The Japanese Red Cross has 2,400 trained psychosocial nurses and an eight-member specialist psychosocial team.

    These are good places to start in terms of donations because you can find out exactly what is going on and where you’d like to send your money.

    Here’s the link

    As an aside, I think it’s wonderful that you’re donating, and I know that someone will get a blanket or medical attention or counseling because of you. Thanks for the post.

    • Michelloui says:

      Wow! That’s a fantastic resource, thanks for all that Sarah, really great advice.

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An American writer in the UK for over 20 years. Lives in Essex. A pretend extrovert.

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