Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

Weekend volunteering just got easier

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

“Have you been up north yet?” is a common question, six months after the compound disasters of March 11. Over 700,000 people have not only seen first-hand the devastation wrought by the tsunami in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, they have volunteered.

Tohoku Walker's volunteer directory: Let your fingers do the clicking

While volunteers may have met with confusing and even contradictory information at first, there are now quite a few online resources to help match potential volunteers with work that still needs doing. Different government offices are running sites with volunteer information, including the graphically appealing Tasukeai Japan from the Cabinet Secretariat’s Volunteers Coordinator Office, which has general information about how to help and which towns are accepting volunteers. The NPO umbrella organization Japan Civil Network has information about buses that can take groups to the affected areas. Saigai VC has links to government stats and info on volunteer activities as well as links to local volunteer centers.

On the commercial side, Tokyo Walker has set up a site that makes planning a volunteer mission as easy as planning a weekend at a hotspring. The Tohoku Volunteer Yellow Pages lets potential volunteers seek work by clicking on calendar dates and then refining their search by location and by type of  labor. There are buttons for heavy labor like clearing rubble, scraping mud and moving furniture and for less physically demanding work like cleaning and caretaking.

The site provides some things to keep in mind when volunteering, like the importance of making an informed decision about where you’ll go and what you’ll do and leaving emergency contact information with a local volunteer center. It gives the general order of things you need to do, like getting volunteer insurance, double checking that planned transportation routes are accessible and packing your trash out with you. And would it be complete without a sorta cute illustrated guide to the gear you need to bring?

Continue reading about weekend volunteering →

Giving back during Golden Week

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

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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