Give now to help Japan’s survivors

Living on the West Coast where earthquakes are a normal part of growing up, I imagine what it would be like if the disaster that struck Japan happened here. What if I was separated from my family and had no way to know what’s going on, no way to communicate, and was alone and lost?  As a mother, I immediately know how desperate I’d feel if I was separated from my little girl. How would I find her? How would I know she is ok?

Although we don’t know how many areas have access to the Internet in the coastal areas hit by the tsunami, Google’s Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake is helping find missing people. So is the Family Links website from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Watching updates from international news programs, I noticed Brazil has the second largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan.  There are thousands of people there without any news or contact from their Japanese friends and family.  So Person Finder and the ICRC site are helping people all over the world – who are relieved to know their loved ones are safe, even if they can’t yet speak or connect in any other way. I’m thankful that technology can at least ease minds across the oceans in its own small way.

Staggering disaster damage

Although Japan was well prepared for an earthquake, there was “next to nothing” the country could do to prepare for the magnitude of destruction this earthquake and tsunami caused.

The number of people affected is hard to fathom. The most recent disaster figures from Reuters say that more than 440,000 people have been evacuated. Over 850,000 households are still without electricity in near-freezing weather—and at least 1.5 million households don’t have running water. According to CNN over 8,200 people are confirmed dead and sadly, at least 13,000 more missing.

The earthquake and tsunami have taken an unknown toll on family pets and animals too – leaving many four-legged friends injured or abandoned who need rescuing.

Rescue and relief help

This is a time when the people of Japan need help from every resource and every donation that we can give. Despite an ever-growing death toll, there is some hope. Teams like the Los Angeles County Fire urban search and rescue teams are in Japan right now offering their skills to find survivors. And the story and photo of this four-month-old girl who had been separated from her parents for three days and was saved by the Japanese Defense Force touches our hearts.

Save the Children estimates at least 100,000 children have been affected by the disasters; many who have suffered profound losses. They are working to bring a sense of normality back into these children’s lives.  Direct Relief International has worked with the Japanese American Citizens League to provided $400,000 that was sent to Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan), a 31-year-old leading Japanese nonprofit organization.  This donation allows AAR Japan to continue its relief efforts, which are focused on persons with disabilities and elderly persons affected by the disaster.  They have teams providing essential nonfood and food supplies.

Welfare groups are scrambling to rescue helpless animals. Access to affected areas makes the job more challenging, and it’s another urgent need to help cold, hungry and injured animals or give shelter to those being left behind. Many rescue and animal care organizations are working to make a difference, including: International Fund for Animal Welfare, Inc. and the Humane Society of the United States.   This video from GlobalAnimal.org shows a dog bringing help to an injured friend, a glimpse of compassion in the midst of tragedy.

It is hard to know what you can do to help at a time like this. But thankfully—just like it does for people searches—today’s technology makes it easy to donate and help when the Japan victims need it the most.  And more than ever, I trust organizations that have experience and success in disaster recovery. JustGive has set up a special page that lists relief and aid groups working to help the Japanese people begin the long road to recovery.

Donate now and provide hope to people who have lost everything, including loved ones. Your generosity could mean one more hot meal, one more tent, one more survivor found.

And pass the word along to friends and family so they can give too.

Julia Hughes, Marketing Assistant

Haiti: What a difference a year makes?

Last January 12th, Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake—killing over 230,000 people and leaving more than 1 million homeless. The magnitude of the catastrophe, and the effort needed to rebuild are sometimes hard for me to grasp.

Just last week, the Huffington Post spoke of the delay in progress to aid survivors and rebuild. The Chronicle of Philanthropy states only 38 percent of the $1.4 billion donated by Americans to help survivors and begin rebuilding has been spent. Compared to Katrina, $3.3 billion was raised with 80 percent spent in the first year.

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Photo Credits: Allison Shelley (All Rights Reserved)

Like many donors who want to know their money is going to good use, my initial reaction was frustration. The recovery process seems stagnant. Why are survivors still living in substandard conditions? The fragile nation was most recently hit by a cholera outbreak. But I know the solutions aren’t simple; rebuilding will take years, likely a decade or more.

The Nonprofit Times interviewed Charlie MacCormack, CEO of Save the Children, who worries “the bulk of funds will be spent on this stabilization. It’s handing the people a fish, instead of teaching them to fish.” Julie Sell of the American Red Cross said they “will remain rebuilding in Haiti until every one of its donated dollars is spent.”

JustGive’s commitment to Haiti

In February 2010, we pledged $25,000 to match your donations for Haiti relief and rebuilding. To restore the country and help empower the Haitian people, we disbursed over $75k to 26 charities, including our partner organizations like Friends of the Children of Haiti, Grace Mission to HaitiHaiti Micah Project, Lamp for Haiti and the Robert Ford Haitian Orphanage and School Foundation.

Our biggest of the smallest, Friends of the Children of Haiti received $3,800 in donations while our largest charity recipients were Hands Together and Partners in Health which received $24K and $17K, respectively.

In the last year, combining these matching donations with the immediate, one-time donations made, JustGive raised and sent $4.6 million to charities helping Haiti.

Your donations at work

American Red Cross has immunized more than 900,000 people, helping minimize the cholera outbreak. They are also providing more than 660,000 gallons of clean water per day.

Save the Children began to meet the basic needs—food, water, sanitation and shelter—immediately after the quake. Now, efforts are shifting to long-term needs such as a safe place for children to play in the tent villages, clean bathroom and shower areas, and sanitary water sources.

Lutheran World Relief contributed 30,000 health and hygiene kits, 25,500 quilts, 35,700 school kits, 17,500 tarps and 39 large tents for temporary schools. An additional 35,000 health kits assembled at Lutheran summer camps this year are expected to be distributed this month.

Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP)


This last year, we’ve been following the efforts of students at Naples High School (Florida). Their club, Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP), began collecting donations from fellow students and faculty immediately following the earthquake. Challenged by a promise from their teacher to match funds raised, together, they generated nearly $10,000 in Haitian relief. (Read more about their fundraising efforts, including Concert for a Cause which raised $2,500 in donations.)

Continuing to help
Updates from the media on progress in Haiti, slow as it may be, are reminders that we still have work to do. When Katrina hit home we saw the devastation first hand. Let’s keep working to help our neighbors struggling to rebuild their home. Make a donation to an organization committed to disaster relief in memory of those who lost their lives last year. Continue giving. Then tell someone about it, share your thoughts with us on Facebook, or follow our conversations on Twitter.