Archives – April, 2011

Starting to Recover: “I’m so glad to be alive”

Leave a Comment April 16, 2011

It’s been more than a month since the tragedy occurred, and relief efforts are still taking place. Immediate relief efforts are starting to transition into ones that are aimed at recovery. I’ll introduce some here.


ADRA, which was initially providing hot food and supplies to those affected, started to help facilities clean up the mud and debris that the tsunami brought in. The mud needs to be cleared up as soon as possible to ensure that the unsanitary gunk that is in the sludge will not ruin the facility.

On April 12th, they cleaned up 2 rooms and the kitchen of a nursing home in the area. This process is very physically demanding, as the mud is sticky and cannot be washed away simply with water. The volunteers had to first move out all of the furniture, then shovel out the dirt with small shovels for hours before they could hose the facility down.


Inside the furniture covered with mud, there are many memories of those who lived there. Clearing this out means getting rid of all of their cherished memorabilia, including casette tapes with their favorite songs, books that they have read multiple times,  souvenirs  from vacation spots. The person who lived in this room said “Before, I could not even touch these things even if people came to help clean up. It’s hard to have the resolve to throw away these things.” The volunteers could not offer any words, but spent their time meticulously cleaning up the room to the best of their abilities. By the time they finished cleaning, the resident thanked them by saying “Thank you. It’s very clean now. I have to keep my head up from now on, don’t I?” The volunteers were touched at the person’s strength to go on despite the severity of the disaster.

(Picture and post from their blog)

Civic Force

Civic recently made a youtube account where you can check out the situation of volunteering that’s happening over there.

So far, they’ve compiled donations from 85 companies and passed out 209 tons worth of supplies. They recently set up a regular truck shipment to Kesen-numa city, sending 10 4-ton truck filled with supplies everyday.

Civic Force is trying to target smaller shelters that do not receive regular shipments from large organizations; recently, they found a shelter providing assistance to around 300 people that only receives shipments of supplies once every 3 days. Furthermore, the elderly often cannot make the long trek to other supply storage facilities, so this location is their only source of food and other necessities.

Civic Force has received much praise for their quick delivery of necessary goods. At Minami Sanriku-city, some people shed tears at receiving canned tuna, as it reminded them of the tuna that they used to fish in their ports. “I’m truly shedding tears, I’m so glad to be alive” they said, as the truck drivers helping with delivery of the supplies told us “I’m glad I am doing this job”.

(Picture and post from their website)

Peace Winds Japan

Staying in a shelter for weeks is emotionally exhausting, especially for children who just want to go outside and play with their friends. After hearing these things, Peace Winds Japan wanted to provide the children in these areas with happiness, so they got Studio Ghibli (the studio that made Totoro, Spirited Away, etc.) to provide them with DVDs of their movies along with screening devices.

When the movies were shown on the screen, the children sitting in front and adults resting on the blankets gave cheers as they watched the movies (Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service) in earnest.

(Pictures and post from their site)

That’s all for now; as you can see, the recovery efforts are slowly transitioning from relief to recovery oriented actions. Please keep donating to help Japan!


Long Term VS Short Term Donations

Leave a Comment April 8, 2011

Today, one of the largest aftershocks (M 7.4) hit Miyagi and its surrounding prefectures. Help is still needed, so please keep donating!


A very quick update I found on the blog of Nippon Foundation’s chairman, Yohei Sasakawa.

In Japan, there are two types of funds being collected: long term “gienkin” and short term “shienkin”

Organizations such as the Japanese Red Cross and media agencies (newspapers, TV stations) are collecting “gienkin”, which will be compiled to an official distribution organization of each prefecture. The organization, made up of Japan Red Cross, mass media, self-governing bodies of local towns, and specialists, must divide the collected funds equally among areas of the prefecture that are affected the most. However, this deliberation process takes a long time, and there was a case during the Hanshin earthquake where the distribution could not be decided even after a year, becoming a problem at the national assembly.

This is why donations for short-term efforts need to be directly donated to the local NGOs, or otherwise donated to Nippon foundation, a foundation which distributes funds to local NGOs to be used. The Gienkin that you donate to Japan Red Cross will be used all towards their recovery efforts, but it will just take longer.


Also,  here is a link to a great blog run by one of our friends who is volunteering in Japan; many pictures and stories directly from organizations she’s working with.

Please read her blog here; lots of detailed things on what she and many organizations are doing.


“When we arrived, we found that the village had virtually nothing”: Global Giving Partners

Leave a Comment April 7, 2011

I want to start this post off by introducing a great organization: I am sure many of our readers are aware of this site already, but it is a nonprofit organization that aims to “build an efficient, open, thriving marketplace that connects people who have community and world-changing ideas with people who can support them”. It links the donors to excellent grassroots organizations, and allows for the donors to track what the organizations are doing with their money with regular updates on their site.

After the Japan earthquake/tsunami, Global Giving has set up their own fund, as well as other projects that donors can directly donate to. See how to donate to them at the DONATE TO JAPAN link at the top of our page.

The rest of this post will share a personal story by one of the volunteers, as well as introduce the efforts of some of the organizations that Global Giving is endorsing that we have not reported on yet.

Here’s a list of all of Global Giving’s partners:

Association of Medical Doctors of Asia
Peace Winds
Japan Platform
Save the Children
Telecom for Basic Human Needs
International Medical Corps
Japanese Emergency NGOs
Civic Force
Association for Aid and Relief
Lifeline Energy
Architecture for Humanity

You can see what they have done by navigating with the category links on the right.

International Medical Corps helping in Ogotsu

This touching story that was posted by a volunteer, John Ferguson in International Medical Corps.

When we arrived, we found that the village had virtually nothing.

Roughly 75 percent of the town had been completely destroyed by the tsunami; 1,300 people are living in 16 evacuation sites, some of which house as many as 600 people. Electricity is available only at sites that have generators, and cell phone service is still out.   On top of this, 50 percent of Ogotsu’s population is older than 60, creating a need for consistent medical care and management of chronic illnesses…

The next day, we woke up determined to get what they needed. We bought two washing machines, two water tanks, laundry detergent, hangers, plates, and chopsticks and hit the road back to Ogotsu, where we were directed to one of the 16 evacuation centers.

When we got there, people poured out to see us. A group of ladies soon surrounded me and asked me all kinds of questions. I told them I was from American and came to help.   Then one of the ladies said she had lost her daughter to the tsunami. Another woman said she had lost her house and her cat.

Despite their tragic losses, the women were all smiles and giggles. One of the women reminded me that laughter was the best medicine of all, not just for them, but for everyone involved, including me.

I wanted to share this story because I want those who supported our emergency relief efforts in Japan to know that,  because of their support, we were not only able to provide the people of Ogatsu with what they needed, but were also able to give them something priceless – hope. They know now that the world cares and is trying to help.

And there is no better gift than that.

(quoted directly from their blog post)

You can read more on what they have done in yesterday’s blog post.

Telecom for Basic Human Needs (BHN)

BHN borrowed an ambulance from a hospital that the head of the organization ran, and sent doctors, nurses, and a telecommunications specialist to Natori-city, Miyagi. At the farm house that the staff stayed at for a night, the staff received rice from the farmer to donate to the people there. After meeting with doctors from Tohoku International Clinic, the team took care of 100 or so patients within the week. Ito, the telecommunications specialist, stayed behind to help out; he was from Ibaragi himself, and his house was affected by the earthquake.The doctors are continuing to go around the severely affected areas in the ambulance to see those who need medical help.

Also, they have released a statement that they will start providing temporary internet facilities near Iwate prefecture to provide aid for the local government there. You can see their website here.

Lifeline Energy

This organization is distributing 15,000 Polaris  all-in-one radio, light and cell-phone chargers by early April. This will be extremely important for the people in remote places who still do not have access to current information; the survivors will be able to use the radio to get more information about support services, radiation levels, and other crucial things. The light and phone charger will also help where electricity is still not at its full capability. More updates will presumably come after the Polaris have been distributed. Read more about them here.

Architecture for Humanity

Not many immediate updates yet, as they will enter Japan and start building once Japan transitions from the relief phase to the recovery phase in emergency rebuilding. However, they have already entered Sendai and is conducting door-to-door needs assessments to determine what is necessary to make the rebuilding process as smooth as possible. Not only will they build houses for the displaced, but will also work  with professionals to design safe and sustainable community buildings, health clinics, schools, and hospitals. Updates will be posted later on, and you can check their website here.

Please support Global Giving and all of their fantastic nonprofits partners by donating. Click here for our page on a compilation of donation options!


Addressing Mental Health a “Critical Need”

Leave a Comment April 6, 2011

While addressing the physical needs of survivors in the affected areas of Japan is at the forefront of many nonprofits, several have stepped up to focus on a potential injury that is not always immediately obvious: mental health.

International Medical Corps Worldwide

International Medical Corps (IMC) Worldwide is supporting psychological counseling services via telephone. IMC Worldwide, an organization that provides “vital health care that focus on training,” previously supplied mental health guidelines for assisting those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Their Emergency Response Team now turns to those affected on the “isolated coastal communities north of Sendai, including Ogatsu-machi, Minami-Sanriku, Kesennuma, Riken-Takata, East Matsushima, and areas north of Ishinomaki” and have assessed a that there is a “critical need” to address mental health.

From their website:

In these assessments, International Medical Corps has identified mental health as a critical need, as fatigue, stress, and insomnia are reported among many evacuees. An increasing number of children are developing asthma, mumps, and pneumonia in Minami-Sanriku evacuation centers, some of which is thought to be the result of stress. Meantime, high levels of anxiety are also prevalent outside of the affected areas as a result of radiation fears.

Here’s an excerpt from an article on quoting Dr. Mutsuo Ikuhara, who is traveling to Japan with IMC:

“I would still think there’s a lot of people in shock and coming to grips with the magnitude of the disaster,” he said. “The disaster seems to be changing moment by moment, so I’d imagine they’d be taking stock on how much damage occurred in terms of surface area and number of family and people affected.”

As the horrific event sinks in, however, Ikuhara said he expected to see people with more stress-related issues.

“Eventually when things stabilize when those life and death issues they’re going to be able to say ‘Oh my god I lost everything’ and that’s usually what affects all of us–that’s when emotions can take control,” he said.


In a trip to Haiti, Dr. Ikuhara witnessed many cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and trauma. Although he says that the Japanese might be viewed from the Western perspective as appearing “stoic,” he notes: “That doesn’t mean they’re not feeling badly.”

From the article (Kyodo News/AP).

Tokyo English Life Line and Peace Boat

IMC has partnered with both Tokyo English Life Line (TELL), an nonprofit that provides free confidential phone counseling (among other services) and Peace Boat, a nonprofit NGO based in Tokyo. IMC will provide training in “Psychological First Aid, computer equipment, and technical support” to bolster telephone counseling services with TELL, as well as help educate communities about available services through handouts and workshops. Peace Boat has been providing “hot meals, non-food items, cleaning services, and other community support activities” to those who are still living in their damaged homes. IMC will contribute “supplies, communications equipment, technology, logistical and possibly technical support in health promotion and reconstruction” to help enlarge Peace Boat’s efforts.

Footage of Peace Boat’s contributions from their website:

YouTube Preview Image

Donate toward Japan Relief and Recovery through the IMC here.
Donate or Volunteer with TELL.
Learn more about Peace Boat’s efforts in Japan, donate, and/or volunteer here.

Association of Medical Doctors of Asia

AMDA, who as of April 5th has dispatched a total of 114 relief personnel, has:

41 doctors, 20 nurses, 3 midwives, 1 assistant nurse, 3 pharmacists, 2 psychotherapists, 40 coordinators (including assistants and interpreters), and 4 careworkers, according to their most recent update.

An example of their mental health personnel being put to work is in Minamisanriku-cho in Miyagi Prefecture, based in Sizugawa Elementary School in Sanriku-cho, where “a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist in the team are treating those who have symptoms of stress or mental disorder.”

Photos from a recent AMDA update on their website (in English).

Stay updated with AMDA’s efforts and donate to them here.


82 Organizations Promoting Women’s Issues Recognized in 2011 Women’s Empowerment Campaign

Comment (1) April 5, 2011

GreatNonprofits today announced that 82 organizations working on important women’s issues across the country have qualified for the 2011 Top-Rated Women’s Empowerment Nonprofits List based on user reviews submitted during a national campaign in March.

The reviews were posted as part of the 2011 GreatNonprofits Women’s Empowerment Campaign, conducted in partnership with GuideStar and a broad coalition of leaders in the field including, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, the American Association of University Women, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Women’s Funding Network and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Over the course of the campaign, more than 120,000 people visited the GreatNonprofits site to read and write reviews. A total of 187 nonprofit organizations working to empower women were rated and reviewed by stakeholders. In the process, a total of 1,558 new user reviews were gathered. All the organizations on the top-rated list received ten or more positive reviews.

During National Women’s History Month, thousands of reviewers helped tell the story of how these organizations serve and empower women around the world. Among the nonprofits making the top-rated list is the Fistula Foundation, an organization committed to providing care for women worldwide suffering from this devastating health issue.

“Once people take time to learn more about fistula and the work we do, they become our biggest champions,” shares Kate Grant, Executive Director of the Fistula Foundation. She adds. “We’ve earned their trust. But we don’t want the American public to just take our word for it. We want people to see for themselves what our volunteers, donors and board leaders have to say. GreatNonprofits is giving a megaphone to those who know us. And we want everyone who cares about the work we do to hear what they have to say. We’re thankful to GreatNonprofits for helping to turn up the volume in this way. Their Women’s Empowerment Campaign is an enormous boost for us, a small but mighty charity doing admirable work and helping restore health and dignity each year for thousands of the world’s poorest women in countries throughout Africa and Asia.”

Diane Dvorin, co-founder and director of Women Work Together agrees. “Qualifying for the 2011 List of Great Nonprofits opens new ways for Women Work Together to cultivate connections with both qualified volunteers and potential donors as we work to expand support for WWT’s leadership development and community building programs with Mayan girls and women in San Pedro Sacatepequez Guatemala.”

The entire list of Top-Rated Women’s Nonprofits can be found at

 About the Campaign

The 2011 Women’s Empowerment Campaign ran throughout the month of March 2011, and all reviews submitted appear on both of the and websites. The qualifying organizations that received ten or more positive user reviews are listed on the 2011 Top-Rated Women’s Nonprofits List.

 Partners in the Campaign

The National Council of Women’s Organizations
American Association of University Women
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Women’s Funding Network
The National Center for Lesbian Rights

Media Contact

Emma Bundy
(510) 504-2048


50 Organizations Promoting Environmental Issues Recognized in 2011 Green Choice Campaign

Leave a Comment April 5, 2011

Just in time for Earth Day, GreatNonprofits today announced that 50 organizations working to protect and preserve the environment across the country have qualified for the 2011 Top-Rated Green Nonprofits List based on user reviews submitted during a national campaign in March.

The reviews were posted as part of the 2011 GreatNonprofits Green Choice Campaign, conducted in partnership with GuideStar and a broad coalition of leaders in the field including, The Sierra Club and Environmental Volunteers.

Over the course of the campaign, more than 120,000 people visited the GreatNonprofits site to read and write reviews. A total of 128 nonprofit organizations were rated and reviewed by stakeholders. In the process, a total of 1,147 new user reviews were gathered. All the organizations on the top-rated list received ten or more positive reviews.

During the month of March, thousands of reviewers helped tell the story of how these organizations strengthen our environment and our planet. Among the nonprofits making the top-rated list is Panthera, an organization committed to ensuring a future for the world’s largest and most endangered cats through scientific leadership and global conservation action.

“Panthera’s community of supporters is ever-growing,” explains Susie Weller, a coordinator for Panthera, “and it is with the help of platforms like GreatNonprofits that we are able to accelerate awareness and support for our wild cat conservation initiatives. GreatNonprofits is a particularly unique ‘crowd riser’ because reviews of our organization posted on this site reflect the voluntary, genuine and personal accounts of individuals’ experiences with, and perceptions of, Panthera.”

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity agrees. “It’s an honor to be named one of GreatNonprofits’ top environmental groups for 2011. Because we put the vast majority of our budget toward hiring expert staff to save endangered species and wild places, we don’t advertise or rely on marketing gimmicks. Instead, we count on our enthusiastic supporters to spread the word about what we do. That includes talking with friends and relatives, posting our latest news on social networking sites and sharing their thoughts on how we’re doing on GreatNonprofits’ review section. We’re grateful to get so much positive feedback from our supporters and look forward to many more years of their commitment to our work saving imperiled plants, animals and the places they live.”

The entire list of Top-Rated Green Nonprofits can be found at

About the Campaign

The 2011 Green Choice Campaign ran throughout the month of March 2011, and all reviews submitted appear on both of the and websites. The qualifying organizations that received ten or more positive user reviews are listed on the 2011 Top-Rated Green Nonprofits List.

 Partners in the Campaign

The Sierra Club
Environmental Volunteers

Media Contact:

Emma Bundy
(510) 504-2048


Doctors and Nurses Get To Survivors With Helicopters and Electric Cars

Leave a Comment April 3, 2011


The Association of Medical Doctors of Asia, an organization that mainly provides medical assistance to countries in times of emergency, sent a team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and surveyors to locations in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures; a total of 56 people are now working in the field, and have been able to access even the heavily affected parts with electric cars and helicopters.


They have also been providing medical supplies (medicine, vitamins, masks, IV equipment, flashlights, heat packs) that is needed in the areas hit hardest. Food supplies have also been provided in conjunction with Okayama Cooperative Association, and include 700 instant noodles, 1000 bread rolls, 1100 drinks, 1100 fruits, and other disposable utensils.


Here’s the page where they are updating on the current situation (in English).


The Only Relief Organization In Town of 60,000

Leave a Comment April 3, 2011

Operation Blessing International

The Matsumoto family is one of many families living in the temporary relief shelters at a local school in Shiogama city.


From their blog:

We spoke to Mr. Matsumoto who told us that the first floor of his house was completely inundated with mud from the tsunami. They lost most of their belongings and will never be able to live there again. He seemed slightly lost as he explained that he had no idea how long his family (six members including his wife, grandmother and three children) would need to live in the shelter. He was thankful to Operation Blessing for bringing food and water supplies and said that they felt well cared for under the circumstances.

Operation Blessing International provides food, water, and medical assistance to those in need, and is carrying out disaster relief efforts in Japan. They have been able to deliver these supplies directly to the areas affected in small towns near Sendai, including Otsuchi where half of the 17,000 residents are still missing, and Shiogama, where they are the only organization working for the city of 60,000.

(all pictures from their blog)

They have been able to provide food, water, kerosene heaters, and other necessary goods in this manner, and will continue to do so. You can read their updated blog here.


Survivors grateful for food despite long lines

Leave a Comment April 3, 2011

ADRA Japan
ADRA organized a food drive for citizens in Sendai, providing hot food for the victims. Hideo Watanabe, Programme Officer of ADRA Japan reported an incident that happened on the 20th:

At around 3PM, a woman around 50 years old fainted due to anemia while waiting in line. Thankfully it was not serious, and we drove her back to her home after having her rest a little.

According to her, she lives alone; although her daughter lives in a nearby city, there is not enough gasoline to use the car and thus the daughter could not reach her mother.

Her house is safe, and although she has electricity and running water, she can only take a bath every four days as she does not know when the gas lines will be repaired. She could not even go far to go buy necessities due to gasoline shortages, and even if she lined up at the store for more than three hours, she could only buy a meager amount of food. In a situation where most of the houses are almost out of food, she was very thankful for the hot meals that ADRA provided.

She continued; “A lot of things are gradually going back to normal. It’s hard living on things you are not used to eating such as dried bread and instant noodles, but I am more fortunate than others in that I have a life and a house. Even if it is only once or twice a day, I am extremely thankful and happy for these hot meals.”

(post translated from here)

ADRA continues to provide assistance to those affected by the earthquake by providing food and supplies to various relief shelters in the Sendai area.


“I want to go home. I want to take a bath and be with my friends.” – Child survivor

Comment (1) April 3, 2011

Save the Children

6 year old Kosuke (pseudonym) and his father told us about the earthquake when it hit.
“When the earthquake occurred, I fled with my son and pregnant wife to an elevated location,” said Takahiko, the father. 20 minutes later, the family saw the large waves in front of their eyes.

“The large waves swallowed our house. But right after, a bigger, bigger wave came towards us and swallowed everything. It was so scary. When the water went down and we went to go see our house, there was nothing left, and my favorite toys and collectible cards were gone.

The family is taking shelter at a hospital now. “I want to go home. I want to take a bath and be with my friends,” Kosuke told us. (from their blog)

They also updated how the donations can be used for the children:

3000 yen (app. $37) will buy 3 beach balls, 4 jump ropes, and 3 soccer balls that a group of children can use to move around.

5000 yen (app. $61) will buy 5 notebooks, 12 sets of crayons, 3 sketchbooks, 12 sets of colored pencils, and one pencil sharpener for a group of children to draw with.

10000 yen (app. $123) will buy 2 picture books, 50 sets of origami papers, 3 sets of clay, 4 stuffed animals, 2 sets of board games, and 2 sets of puzzles for a group of children to play creatively with.

Save the Children also set up four “child-friendly spaces” where the children in relief shelters can interact with staff and other children.


Previous page

GreatNonprofits is the place to find trustworthy nonprofits. »

Subscribe to our blog:


Recent Posts

Recent Comments


Have you volunteered in 2013?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...