Bittersweet Spring – an update on our Japan efforts

Posted by mari on April 15th, 2011

For us in DC, life is back to normal.  Spring is here and although I couldn’t quite make myself go view the cherry blossoms this year – associated as they are in my Japanese mind with celebration – it’s hard not to feel all revved up at the prospect of warmer weather, longer days, and days off.  And this year I feel keenly that it’s a luxury to feel this way.

Because for people in Japan, life is full of reminders that it’s not back to normal. Aftershocks continue, as you can see here in a map covering just the last week, and my mother tells me you just can’t get bottled water in Tokyo ever since the radiation scare that started 22 days ago. And people in the Tohoku area are mourning the 25,000+ people who were killed or are still missing, more likely than not at an evacuation center – for there are still more than 170,000 registered at the official centers. Then there are still others, official numbers unknown, who are squatting in buildings they were able to reach and take shelter in.

It’s required extraordinary efforts to keep a semblance of normalcy together in Japan. One of our project leaders has been just buying fuel, shipping it into Japan, and distributing it to people to power their kerosene stoves to stay warm. It’s not a long-term solution by any means, but it’s badly needed. To help with these efforts, and thanks to more than 30,000 donors and dozens of companies, GlobalGiving and GlobalGiving UK have disbursed more than $3 million to 14 organizations: Architecture for Humanity, Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA), Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Civic Force, International Medical Corps, Japan Platform, Japanese Emergency NGOs (JEN), Lifeline Energy, Mercy Corps, Peace Winds, Save the Children, Shelter Box, Shine Humanity, and Telecom for Basic Human Needs (BHN).

But we’re also looking at the medium-term transition and a partial return to normal:

  • Civic Force has partnered with local carpenters to build bathhouses, making it possible for individuals who have gone weeks without bathing to wash;
  • JEN staff and volunteers are removing sludge from public buildings and homes;
  • Peace Winds and Mercy Corps have teamed up to train caregivers to help children through the trauma of disaster;
  • AMDA has organized movies and sports events and provided exercise equipment to alleviate boredom and restlessness in evacuation centers; and
  • The International Medical Corps has partnered with local organizations to provide telephone counseling and training in psychological first aid.

To support these ongoing relief and rebuilding projects you can head over to our Japan Earthquake and Tsunami landing page.

Others have begun to develop long-term plans for recovery. Architecture for Humanity is committed to the physical rebuilding of communities, while Telecom for Basic Human Needs has developed a plan for reestablishing radio infrastructure in collaboration with Japan Platform. You can see – and support – these specific projects on GlobalGiving.org and GlobalGiving.co.uk.

Over the next month or two, we’ll be channeling the funds that are still coming in from corporate matching campaigns, cause-marketing promotions, and individual donors. On our blog you can read more about how GlobalGiving’s corporate partners are contributing. And in the UK, GlobalGiving UK’s partnership with JustGiving continues to provide an easy way for individuals and corporations to fundraise for disaster relief projects. Ocado, the home delivery company, used JustGiving’s platform to raise £200,000 from staff and customers for Mercy Corps’ work via GlobalGiving UK.

For more real-time updates on our work, you can follow us on Twitter (@GlobalGiving) or “like” our Facebook Page. And updates from the field are all on our “Updates from Japan” page.

Many thanks to Adam Baker, whose photo graces this blog post (copyright Adam T Baker)

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