How to help Japan ?

We’re starting to settle down in the after.

A few days after the earthquake hit Japan, and multiple waves of tsunami hit the coasts, as the enormity of the disaster just started to sink in, and the nuclear crisis started to occupy the front lines, a friend commented that Japan will never be the same. At the time, we all agreed, foreigners and Japanese included. A few days later, I’m still convinced it is true. This event, with all its ramifications and consequences, will probably set the delimitation for a before and an after. Japan, as many countries, has known quite a few major disasters; this one somehow seems to set the bar for recovery higher than it’s ever been.

In the midst of this crisis though, we’ve witnessed a lot of good. Cohesion among people, genuine empathy and a strong desire to help those touched the most by the disaster. Somehow this all gives me hope that it will eventually be ok, even if the road is long.

The relief effort toward the most devastated areas is complicated by the amount of destruction and damaged lifelines, by the tsunami mud that covers everything, by the limited space to construct temporary housing etc. The list of hurdles is unfortunately really long.

A lot of people, including family and friends, have asked me what they could concretely do to help. I already mentioned ShelterBox in an earlier post, but many organizations and funds have mobilized to provide relief to the people in the most affected areas. You can find this information in many other places on the web, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to put it here as well.

  • Save the Children has also responded.“Save the Children has been working in Japan for 25 years. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Save the Children deployed emergency response teams to assess the needs of children and their families. Multiple child-friendly spaces have been established in evacuation centers in Sendai City where displaced families are staying. Child-friendly spaces provide children with an opportunity to play with other children while freeing up parents to work on the recovery. More child-friendly spaces will be set up in the coming days. (…) Donations to the Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund will exclusively be used to help provide disaster relief and support for Japanese children. In addition to immediate relief, this fund will help support long-term recovery plans to restore education and child care in Japanese communities ravaged by the disasters.”
  • Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has already sent teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. They have been treating patients in the most affected areas, notably providing much needed care for chronic diseases. Complementary teams of psychologists have also been sent to help deal with the variety of stress disorders common among evacuees.
  • The Salvation Army in Japan immediately dispersed teams following the disaster to the most severely affected areas where they are distributing basic necessities to survivors. These teams will also assess the damage to discern the next steps in their relief efforts.
  • UNICEF is also coordinating efforts to help the children of Japan.
  • The Red Cross has already contributed more than $10 millions for Japan.

A lot of Etsy shops are also participating in the relief effort.

Quite naturally, the last few posts have mostly been about what is happening right now in Japan. I will probably keep on writing about it,  because it somehow helps me process, but I’m also going to go back to talking about other things too. As crazy as it may seem (and from here, believe me, it does seem crazy) life is going on. A bit different than it was before, but it is going on.

Once again thank you for your sweet messages, they really warm my heart !



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