We’re announcing Project Tohoku, our Japan tsunami response project! Due to the sheer scale and complex nature of this event, emergency response remains active even two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami. As a result, we do not yet have specific information regarding the start date of volunteer opportunities. Please check back for updates in the coming days.
The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck on March 11th, and the devastating tsunami that followed wiped out many coastal communities including Ofunato and Rikuzen Takata (both in Iwate prefecture). Tens of thousands of homes were damaged in Iwate alone, where nearly 44,000 people remain in evacuation shelters. Those who are able are beginning to clear debris from their homes and businesses, but the challenges are great and complex.
After extensive discussion and assessment, we were asked to provide support to the local government. The officials also accepted our offer of assistance in a role that would allow for program expansion, allowing us to begin our work in these two communities. We anticipate significant need for warehousing/logistics and distribution support, debris sorting and clearing, and other key programs where we’ll be able to leverage our vibrant volunteer resources.
The situation remains fluid and our programs are in development. The strong volunteer interest and motivation amongst the Japanese and expatriate community is inspiring and noteworthy; we are excited to empower unprecedented levels of local and national volunteers in this project. International volunteers with Japanese language skills will play key roles in the project start-up, and while we do anticipate opportunities for general international volunteers,we don’t have any at this time.
We thank the municipalities and leadership of Ofunato and Takata for their collaboration during our assessment, and look forward to working closely with them in the coming months.
How can you help?
It may be weeks before international volunteers begin to respond in Japan, but there are several ways that you can help respond to the Japan tsunami today:
- Donate to the Japan Tsunami Response Fund
- Host a fundraising event
- Set up a custom fundraising page and encourage your friends and family to donate