Local Relief Efforts for Japan

A little over a month ago, on March 11th, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan. It was the largest recorded earthquake in the country’s history, causing untold damage, numerous deaths, and a devastating tsunami. Numerous relief and humanitarian organizations from around the world jumped in to help and support the hundreds of thousands of victims of this natural disaster. One of these organizations — the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund — is located right here in Boston and has been instrumental in providing its services to the Japanese people.

We asked the co-founder of the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund, Ms. Atsuko Toko Fish, to provide us with more detailed insights both into the organization and the overall situation in Japan so that we could share this information with all of you. Below are her responses to our questions.

1) What is the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund?

In order to provide Kibou (Hope) to Japanese people, The Boston Foundation, Japan Society of Boston and the Fish Family Foundation have established the “Japanese Disaster Relief Fund – Boston.” The purpose of the Fund is to provide immediate relief to affected individuals and communities in Northeast Japan. 100% of funds raised will go toward these relief and sustaining efforts and we anticipate that the Fund will be expended within two years.

The Fund will prioritize immediate relief through supporting local NGOs and communities on the ground best positioned to aid those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Our intention is to disperse these short-term funds as quickly as possible. We anticipate the needs assessment, due diligence, and fund allocation for short-term aid will be completed within approximately 3 months. Over the next two years, the remaining funds will be distributed periodically for mid-to longer term aid.

2) How does it differ from other relief organizations?

This Fund is a unique collaboration with three nonprofit organizations, the Boston Foundation, The Japan Society of Boston and the Fish Family Foundation. Our expertise in grant making and our networks in Japan enable us to make direct impact grants to organizations and communities in Tohoku. In addition, all administrative costs of the fund – including on-the-ground needs assessment and due diligence in Japan— are covered by the Fish Family Foundation.

3) What is needed the most in Japan right now?

What the people of Japan need is Hope. They have lost their homes and livelihoods. They need to rebuild their lives again. They need temporary shelters, medical attention, and better sanitation systems. Many elderly people are experiencing severe health conditions after being taken out of their care environment.   In addition, the children need to return back to their schools and begin a normal life again.

4) How long do you think the recovery process will take?

It is hard to anticipate. Sources say it will take more than 5 years for the region to rebuild itself again.

5) How can individuals support the Japanese Relief Fund?

You can support the grantee organizations of the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund – Boston by donating through our website (http://japanesedisasterrelieffund.org) and attending the fundraising events in the Upcoming Events page. We have many fantastic restaurants, businesses, and communities in Boston holding events to support our Fund. It is a great way to spend your weekend to help those in need.

In addition, we are getting involved with social media to actively promote the fund. Please follow us at @jdrfb on twitter and “Japanese Disaster Relief Fund –Boston” on facebook.

6) How has the Boston community responded so far to the disaster in Japan?

The Boston community has been an incredible source of support. For example, the medical community has come together to form the Boston-Japan Medical Relief Initiative to send a group of Japanese doctors to support relief efforts near the evacuee sites. We approved a $30,000 grant to this group for travel expenses and emergency medical supplies for the first two teams of Boston doctors. The first team of doctors will be returning from Japan very shortly.

7) How can the Boston community get more informed and active?

Please keep your thoughts with the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan. They have lost their families, homes, and livelihoods. The local NGOs and volunteer communities need our financial support to assist these individuals. Please visit http://japanesedisasterrelieffund.org for donations. In addition, we are happy to review proposals for fundraising plans. Please email us with your contact information and a brief fundraising proposal at info.jdrfb@gmail.com.

Please consider supporting the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund today!


About UNA-GB

Founded over sixty years ago, the United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNA-GB) is dedicated to building understanding of and support for the ideals and work of the UN among the Greater Boston community. We serve as a resource on the broad agenda of critical global issues addressed by the United Nations and its agencies: peacekeeping, human rights, humanitarian relief, economic development, and education.

Posted on April 19, 2011, in Global Learning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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