Giving back during Golden Week

April 28th, 2011 by Felicity Hughes

Rather than jet off abroad, some Japanese are looking to volunteer in the Tohoku area during their precious Golden Week holidays. According to BuzzFinder, NTT’s social media research tool, the number of mentions on blogs of volunteering over the holidays has increased, while the mention of vacations, especially trips abroad, has decreased.

The expected GW surge in volunteers is so high that some organizations are putting a freeze on applications, and authorities are keen for people to go through the proper channels as accommodation, fuel and food are scarce.

One Golden Week volunteer trip given the official stamp of approval is run by Tokyo Voluntary Action Center. They’re currently recruiting for the period between April 29 and May 5 for people to go up north and lend a hand clearing out people’s homes. Only 60 spots are available and volunteers are asked to pay ¥25,000 to pay for food and transportation costs.

Foreigners wanting to pitch in might want to sign up for All Hands, an organization that is currently accepting applications to work up in Tohoku. All Hands volunteers are helping with the cleanup and food distribution in affected areas. The video above shows foreign volunteers helping clean out an earthquake victim’s house.

Another option for foreigners is Peace Boat, who is sending volunteers to Ishinomaki City to help clear rubble, transport goods and distribute food. Volunteers will need to pay for their own transport, bring a warm sleeping bag and be prepared to sleep in tents.

More opportunities to volunteer are likely to come up in the future as the support infrastructure improves, but in the meantime, donations to volunteer groups and the Japanese Red Cross are always welcome.

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