Volunteer tips

TIPS for summer volunteering

Many groups have large scale volunteering programs set up for the summer. I know many of you want to head up to help. If you are inclined to go up – Go through an organization or group already set up. MOST ACCEPT VOLUNTEERS AS THEY NEED THEM, NOT ALL THE TIME. Do not be surprised that you might be turned away if you just show up.

Peace Boat has 100-300 people per week volunteering in teams to do food prep and mud clearing.

Volunteers bus to Tohoku – get involved in Tohoku recovery even if for a weekend this summer and there are pick up points throughout the country

The National Social Welfare Council (全国社会福祉協議会) has kept updating information through its website on groups and organizations that engage in disaster relief works and seek volunteers, and also locations and contacts of volunteer centers that support volunteer activities in Tohoku Download the PDF – updated weekly

Volunteer insurance ボランティア保険について

Volunteer manual:

Contact an organization or a local disaster volunteer center first and ask them about their needs. Let them know when and how long you can help out for and ask if there are any particular things you will need to bring:

For nonJapanese if you have limited Japanese language skills, go with people who are fluent.  To be effective you will need to be able to communicate with people – otherwise you will be draining off resources that are already lacking.

Remember, there are all sorts of work that needs to be done for all levels of physical strength. But the work is NOT easy, whether you are cleaning mud out of homes, moving drift wood, bathing elderly people, driving for 12 hours or cooking 2 meals a day for 1000 people.

Some tips for people going up:
1. Dress appropriately for the weather. Wear work clothes, including boots and gloves, etc. Do not bring too many things.
2. Bring face masks, wet towels and antibacterial hand wash.
3. You should have proper identification and insurance–most places will not accept you unless you do.
4. NO  “disaster tourism” please! no photos of people’s suffering. always ask for permission when you take photos of people.
5. Be self sufficient: Bring all your own wet tissues, garbage bags, toilet paper, etc. In some cases, you will need to bring your trash back with you
6.  Be sensitive to the local people’s feeling and needs. Be careful about what you say to people, about asking about people’s experience. Please avoid all nervous laughter – it can hurt people’s feelings if you laugh at their sad stories!
7. Check if the location you are going to has any specific needs – do not fill up your car with diapers just because you hard they are useful. There are big gaps in resources and facilities.
8. Housing: looking to this before you go. Understand that there may or may not be places to stay and you may not have a chance to change privately. In many cases you will be sleeping on a gym floor or event on the bus in which you came.
9. Gender violence issues: if you are a woman please be careful about going anywhere alone. If you are a guy – please look out for your female friends. In post-disaster situations gender based violence spikes and from what I have heard so far, no evacuation center leaders (mostly old men) do not want to deal with the existing GBV as they are worried about bad press.
10. Be ready to work hard, at least for a while; but be ready to stand around waiting, also. That is part of the deal.
11. Expect to not be able to take daily showers.
12. Bring money to spend and buy as much food and snacks as you can locally. the economy needs you!!!

and Go with others….

This work is stressful and can be shocking – your support is needed but after each disaster some volunteers end up needed to be rescued themselves. Know your self and what you can contribute


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