Helping Japan: a pragmatic overview.

The situation in Japan right now is beyond overwhelming, but it is far from impossible.

Here’s an overview of how to help, and what you can do.

Don’t donate blindly. Spend a few minutes researching your potential charity of choice. Make sure that your money is going to go where you intend it to, and that your charity’s mission statements are in line with your own.

Don’t know where to start? Here are my own personal top three!

Doctors Without Borders is “an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe,” and they discuss both their current work in Japan and donation process here.

World Vets is similar to Doctors without Borders – only for animals! They’re a “non-government organization (NGO) providing veterinary aid around the globe in collaboration with animal advocacy groups, foreign governments, US and foreign military groups and veterinary professionals abroad. [Their] work spans 25 countries and 6 continents and addresses not only veterinary issues, but also human health issues impacted by zoonotic diseases in developing countries.” In cases of natural disasters, animals are often left behind or end up missing, and their welfare is often rather low on the priority list after the fact. But for anyone who’s ever had and loved a pet — imagine not only losing your home, but knowing that, even when you rebuild, your puppy may no longer be there to greet you at the door. Imagine sitting in a shelter, knowing that you’ve lost everything, and not even having the comfort of your kitty curled protectively on your lap.

Imagine your town devastated, and the bustling sounds of the streets replaced by hurt whimpers and desperate cries. Imagine that you have no way to answer, even though one of those cries might be your own companion desperately searching for you.

People say it’s inhuman to consider animals at all when there are people who are still suffering. And that simply isn’t true. Animals are what make us human — and if you think that a reunion with their furry best friend wouldn’t be an immense comfort to a person who’s lost everything else, then you’ve never had a pet.

Keep abreast of World Vet’s work in Japan here.

Search Dog Foundation is perhaps the best of both worlds, for those looking to directly help both people and animals at the same time. Their mission is to “strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.” So not only are you helping to rescue dogs, those rescued dogs are turning right around and helping to rescue people in turn!

And right now, Japan is going to need all of the search and rescue dogs it can get. It’s impossible to offer a person aid until they have been found, after all; and the longer they take to find, the less that person’s chances. Search Dog Foundation talks about their efforts in Japan here.

And as an added bonus, a graphic designer has designed a lovely shirt, with 100% of the profits going to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Japan, which is available for pre-order.


Want to contribute, but don’t have the extra monetary funds? Not to worry! There are always, always many different ways in which you can help. ♥

Spread the word. Most everyone knows of the situation in Japan by this point, of course, but maybe not everyone is familiar with your own charity of choice! Pick the one(s) you would donate to if you were able, and pimp like it’s your job!

For those of you who are in the fandom scene, check out the community help_japan on LiveJournal! They’re a multi-fandom, multi-media auction created to raise funds to assist Japan. Even if you can’t bid on something created by someone else, I bet there’s something you yourself could offer!

There is help_japan at Dreamwidth, as well, which also includes a focus on the 5.8-Richter earthquake that struck China’s Yunnan province on March 10th.

And, of course, there is always fundraising. :) Bake cookies to sell! Knit a cute scarf! Offer to walk your neighbours’ dogs in return for a donation! Get a head start on your spring cleaning and organise a yard sale with all proceeds going to disaster relief! (And don’t be shy about asking your neighbours for help; the more people you have to help man it, the easier a yard sale is, and so they’ll probably be more than happy to throw in their own unwanted stuff and give you a hand!) And remember: Even if you don’t feel as though you have anything worth offering or selling, people will buy anything on the internet these days. This is not to say that you should attempt to burn a picture of Jesus into a piece of toast and then pop it onto eBay, but it is nonetheless a phenomenon to keep in mind.

The point is, no one is ever entirely helpless, no matter how much it may feel that way. There is something that every single one of us can do.

And every single one of us should.


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