Here is an amazing compilation of disaster relief/volunteer information and advice for helping out in Japan and from abroad by David Slater at Sophia University, Tokyo. (posted with permission) Please distribute this link widely to get as much information out to as many people as possible!
Below is a list of volunteer opportunities, compiled from your suggestions and my Jochi students’ fast net-work. (Thanks to both groups!) No information on radiation or economics or donation–just volunteering. We hope it is useful to some.
Also, here is some advice from organizers:
Our first step in relief is still to give money; contribute to local organizations; or even to organize food and supply drives yourself where you are. Much of the work esp. up north is still being done by professionals. Let’s support them.
But many people want to donate time and energy, esp. up north. That is great, too. But if you go, do NOT go on your own. It might be dangerous, but mostly it probably is a poor use of your time and energy. Go through an organization or group already set up. MOST ACCEPT VOLUNTEERS AS THEY NEED THEM, NOT ALL THE TIME. So, don’t just show up; contact them first.
We have tried to find places that foreigners would be able to volunteer at, but of course these are organized to solicit and support Japanese volunteers first. (If you have no Japanese language ability, go with someone else who does; otherwise you will be draining off resources that could be spent other places.)
Remember, there are all sorts of work that needs to be done for all ages and levels of physical strength. But this work is not easy, whether you are cleaning out homes, moving drift wood, bathing elderly people or cooking 2 meals a day for 500 people. If you are not healthy yourself, get full information on the sort of work expected.
If you go, please keep these in mind:
1. Dress appropriately for the cold.
2. Wear work clothes, including boots and gloves, etc.
3. You should have proper identification and insurance–some places will not accept you unless you do.
4. No picture-taking (no “disaster tourism;” what a term!)
5. For day-work, you are usually expected to supply your own food and water, and toilet paper, etc
6. Be ready to work hard, at least for a while; but be ready to stand around waiting, also. That is part of the deal.
7. Go with others….
It was suggested that you in groups―either groups of friends or better, with some school or work group. This work is stressful and rather shocking esp. if you head up north, and support for the supporters is useful.
Also, it is more likely that people will continue to volunteer again if there is some institutional link, eg., “Smash Tennis Club Relief to Miyagi” or “Hedge Fund Directors’ Collection Agency,” etc. that could organize things where you are and repeat trips to other sites.
Disclaimer: some links might be down or a bit different. And while all of these groups have some at least one recommendation, of course, we cannot guarantee all of the organizations here are working smoothly by the time you read this. Check it out yourself.
Some Volunteer Opportunities for Tohoku
This is a clearly incomplete list of volunteer sites, as of April 4, 2011.
Please send updates to firstname.lastname@example.org
- First stops,
- General info
- Foreign groups
- Faith-based groups
- Other NPO
- Facebook groups
- Aggregator sites
- Social welfare offices
- List of city offices.
(Language of the site noted.)
1. FIRST STOPS
Good sites that give you guidelines how, and how not, to volunteer.
Please read these first; English and Japanese
Foreign Volunteer Japan
Put up by Sarajean Rossitto, who is all over the NPO scene in Japan!
Similar instructions in Japanese for Tohoku
2. GENERAL INFORMATION, INCLUDING VOLUNTEERING
Disaster Japan: a useful clearing-house of information, including on volunteering
Also has a Facebook group of the same name.
“Japan Guide Consortium Volunteer Interpreters- Earthquake Relief.”
Particularly for those with Japanese and English ability
3. KEY SITES FOR FOREIGN ORGANIZATIONS
These three are established organizations in Japan set up for foreign volunteers, little or no Japanese is necessary. (For the vast majority of sites listed here, even if part of the homepage is in English, it would be desirable and maybe necessary for you to speak some Japanese.)
Second Harvest is Japan’s largest foodbank, and they are in full-swing, although now they are stressing donations as the most urgent need. Bilingual
Peace Boat is now coordinating teams of volunteers to travel to Ishinomaki City as soon as possible to assist in rebuilding the lives of those affected, and particularly to prepare hot meals. Bilingual
All Hands is a US-based volunteer non-profit already set up on Fukushima: English
4. FAITH-BASED INITIATIVES
Church groups appear to have gotten to the scene very quickly and have organized volunteer groups. Most accept volunteers of all faiths and affiliations.
YMCA Volunteer Center in Sendai
Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope (CRASH) is a network supporting Christians to do relief work in Japan and around the world, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/crashjapan : English
Caritas Japan is a committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan which cooperates with the activities of the worldwide Catholic Church in the field of relief, welfare and development.
Lutheran Church Charities; English
宗教者災害救援ネットワーク; Faith-based network for Earthquake Relief in Japan: Japanese
A list of other faith-based groups; not clear how many of them are accepting volunteers: English
5. NPO SITES SPECIFIC TO A PARTICULAR GROUP OF TYPE OF VOLUNTEERING
Volunteers to bring supplies by motorcycle
Homestay for children. Osaka: Japanese; looking for host family for the children made homeless東北地方太平洋沖地震等による被災 児童のホームステイ受入れボランティアの募集
Tokyo Volunteers; looking for interpreter for those who can’t speak Japanese.
Japan Guide Consortium, looking for interpreters
A group of youth volunteers already up and running, doing good work; English
*Earth Day Money: Calling for Host families for Earthquake Evacuees: English
6. FACEBOOK GROUPS
Facebook has been a important source of updated information, but are sometimes hard to find information in their format. Many of the references on this list were culled from different Facebook pages―many thanks to them! Reading them should give you an idea of the range, tenor and needs of different organization as they evolve. The experiences of different volunteers are often shared on these pages.
Tokyo Quake Cleanup, a Facebook group devoted to gathering and circulating information about volunteer work in the Tokyo area.
About the need and opportunities for English translators: English
Japanese FB page for youth volunteers
Set up by OGA International School in Aomori
宗教者災害救援ネットワーク; Faith-based network for Earthquake Relief in Japan: Japanese
7. AGGREGATOR SITES WITH USEFUL LINKS; MOSTLY JAPANESE
A general site that brings earthquake, relief and volunteer information; Japanese
Useful site of up to date volunteer opportunities
Volunteer Support Project for Earthquake Disaster in Eastern Japan
「東日本大震災 災害ボランティア活動に初めて参加される方へ」基礎事項フォーマットを掲載; Japan Civil Network for
Disaster Relief in East Japan: Japanese
日本国際飢餓対策機構（Japan International Food for the Hungry: 略してJIFH）は、非営利の民間国際協力団体（NGO）です。
NHK’s portal; points out the importance of volunteers being insured; in Japanese
8. SOCIAL WELFARE OFFICES
This appears to be the biggest single volume of volunteers? Due to the huge destruction, in many cases they were not up early, organized or ready to accept volunteers. They seem to be ready now, although not all are accepting volunteers when this list was compiled. But be sure to call first―do not just show up! All in Japanese unless otherwise noted.
全社協 被災地支援・災害ボランティア情報 <http://blog.goo.ne.jp/vc00000>
National Volunteer Information Network
Tokyo Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health: Bilingual in parts
Fukushima Disaster Volunteer Center
Their blog: http://ameblo.jp/pref-f-svc/
Iwaki City volunteer center: A volunteer helping out the procedures of receiving supplies.
Minami-souma volunteer center
① 引越手伝い － ひまわりデイサービスセンターを避難 所として開設します。その準備のため、引越しの手伝いをお願いします。
<volunteer to help out moving out>
② 在宅者確認手伝い － 鹿島区在住で在宅の高齢者等の 安否確認をしております。地域の民生委員さんとペアで安否確認で訪問していただきます。
<finding alive elderly – working in pair with the area’s welfare commissioner>
Miyagi Disaster Volunteer Center
Miyagi Social Welfare
Sendai Social Welfare Counsel
Hachinohe Social Welfare
Iwate Counsel of Social Welfare
Disaster Volunteer Center Misawa
Disaster Volunteer Center, Aizu-Wakamatsu
Joso City Center disaster
Disaster Volunteer Center, Mito City
Disaster Volunteer Center Ibaraki
Disaster Volunteer Center Chiba
Disaster Volunteer Center Urayasu
Disaster Volunteer Center, Asahi City
Disaster Volunteer Center Abiko
Kanagawa Volunteer Support Center Citizens
9. List of city groups accepting volunteers (no net access; just telephone numbers)