Helping Japan: Lessons Learned

Helping Japan: Lessons Learned

It has been all over the news: the horrendous triple disasters that have struck Japan (the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear crisis). I believe that there is a consensus that Japan is facing a major disaster, and one that could take time to resolve.

As I started to do research for this article, I found a large amount of non-profits set up for the crisis in Japan. The most ludicrous was a charity titled “Socks for Japan”. I am not sure about you, but I strongly do not believe that socks would be the first thing on my mind after such disasters.

So I decided to go and look for what exactly would be most beneficial to the Japanese in this time of crisis. And in doing so, I found a fount of articles all decrying sending substantial aid to Japan. Why? you might ask, because Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world with already established disaster plans. This onslaught of misguided relief efforts even earned an article in the New York Times.

“The only things Japan has really asked for at this point is some specialized search-and-rescue teams with dogs, some specialized medical help and some communications equipment, as well as the bulk shipment of goods, which is largely about country-to-country assistance,” (NYT). From what I can gather, I’m pretty sure that Japan does not need or want your money. So if you are planning on donating to some well-meaning (I hope) charitable organization keep these facts in mind.

Just to make matters even clearer, “They [Japan] are working almost exclusively with other governments, not with international charities. That means many of the groups raising money in Japan’s name are still uncertain to whom or to where the money will go.”

I hope you ponder these facts as we make our donations to the numerous charities that the well-meaning people of the world have created. And as we pray for and hope that Japan pulls out of this crisis as quickly as possible, we should also endeavour to make sure that the resources we are contributing are actually needed (or will be utilized).

And if you are still not convinced, here’s a little tidbit that could hopefully convince you:

“The Japanese Red Cross, for example, has said repeatedlysince the day after the earthquake that it does not want or need outside assistance. But that has not stopped the American Red Cross from raising $34 million through Tuesday afternoon in the name of Japan’s disaster victims…The American Red Cross keeps 9 percent of any money it raises, which means that as of Tuesday afternoon, it had raised more than $3 million for itself through the Japan campaign.

So if you are considering donating, please make your donations non-specific, so your funds can be directed to crises that need and are requesting help.

-Onome U. Chicago IL, International Health Team, College Sophomore.


About the author

Onome Uwhuba Onome Uwhuba, 18, University of Chicago, Chicago IL I am a college student at the University of Chicago, and I immigrated to the States from Nigeria in 2006. To me, the East Villagers Service Scholar program is an opportunity to write about the issues and opportunities that inspire me, and yet learn more about other people and what inspires them. Until I moved to the States, I had no knowledge of the struggles faced in East Asia and other areas around the world. I hope with this internship, to gain an opportunity and a learning experience to be able to write about what I feel passionate about, proud of or want to change. I anticipate the opportunity to read what other Service Scholars and East Villagers contributors write about, and learn more about what they want to change in the world and do my part in making some of those changes happen.

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