Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hope International Development Agency - Oshima Island

This is an excerpt from a field report gathered by Hope International Development Agency Japan’s (HOPE-JP) volunteers working on Oshima Island in Miyagi Prefecture.  It illustrates how important it is for an organization to continually gather reliable intelligence on the situation in the areas within which they operate.  In the short term, this means meeting basic needs, but we can start to make predictions on the long term rebuilding needs of the communities as well by listening carefully to the local people’s concerns, fears, and first hand observations.

Field report from the 27th of April 2011

Ranta, HOPE-JP volunteer, walked around Oshima talking with local people about their situation and what they might need. An old woman working in a small food shop said that products are beginning to be distributed and she is now able to sell and buy food once again; there is still no beef, pork or chicken available but fish sausages are available, as well as sake and beer. She has heard that supermarkets in Kesennuma will reopen soon and she is hoping to return to near normal eating habits.
An old fisherman reported that after a bit tsunami during the Meiji period which claimed 6 family members his family moved to a higher area of the island and thankfully his home and his family were spared any damage during this tsunami. The island is hoping to produce konbu or wakame (types of seaweed) this year but that squid and octopus fishing will take over five years to return to normalcy. Many fishermen are planning to leave the island to find work in other areas.  The beach and port have sunk by 70 centimeters.

Some of these bits of information raise concerns for the long term recovery of Oshima Island, the local economy is based largely on fishing and tourism, and both of these have been very much affected by the events there.  Hope Japan, and many other organizations, are working with the local people to find solutions to these and many other problems facing the people of Oshima Island. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Looking for Home Communications Managers for children's homes

Are you a warm-hearted, motivated and organised individual looking for a way to support your community during this difficult time? Can you guarantee that you will be in Japan for at least one more year?

Smile Kids Japan
has partnered with Living Dreams to form Smiles and Dreams: Tohoku Kids’ Project. The intention is to build and continue strong relationships with the 18 childrens’ homes in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, in order to set up regular fun and interactive volunteer visits for the children at these homes. Although the Tohoku Kids’ Project focuses on these 18 childrens’ homes, our ultimate goal is to have regular visits set up in all orphanages across Japan within the next 3 years. For this, we need you.

Smile Kids Japan and Living Dreams are looking for Home Communications Managers (HCMs). HCM responsibilities will include:

  • Fostering personal relationships with staff members at a children’s home to establish and maintain regular, long-term visits as frequently as possible, but at least every 3 months.
  • Conducting needs assessments of the home and acting as a liaison between that home and members of the Tohoku Kids’ Project
  • Helping distribute items that are donated to children’s homes
  • Attending events organised by the Tohoku Kids’ Project that take place at the home as often as possible

Our goal is to have two HCMs for each home in an effort to make the workload easier for our HCMs. One HCM will require good Japanese, but both coordinators do not have to speak fluently.

As an HCM you do not have to worry about working alone. Members of the Smile Kids Japan team are always available to take questions and give advice and will also connect the HCM community across the country to offer further support and ideas. Any questions or problems that you encounter can be directed to Smile Kids Japan immediately.

If you are interested in becoming a Home Communications Manager, please download and complete the form below. Please return the form to

Children's Home Communications Manager (HCM) Application - Word Document (798KB)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Volunteering in Iwate Prefecture

Most of the VCs in Iwate are accepting local volunteers only and ask that out-of-town and out-of-prefecture volunteers do not come to Iwate.

Fukushima VC info

Soma VC in accepts out-of-prefecture volunteers only on Saturdays and holidays. They especially need people with nursing and caregiving qualifications. Activities include sorting aid materials, cooking, caring for the sick and elderly, cleaning up houses, childcare at the evacuation center, and providing companionship for the elderly. During Golden Week, they anticipate that volunteers many not be able to do the type of volunteer work they want to do.

Minami Soma VC
cannot accommodate additional volunteers at this time.

Volunteering During Golden Week - Miyagi Prefecture

Volunteer Centers in Miyagi are bracing themselves for the Golden Week Rush. There is a great deal of concern that the numbers of volunteers will overwhelm the VCs in terms of parking, availability of jobs, etc. If you are thinking about volunteering during Golden Week, if there is any possibility of delaying your activities until after the rush dies down, please consider doing so.
Tohoku will need many volunteers over the upcoming months, and your efforts will be most effective if you schedule them according to the VCs' needs.

Here is a general updates on the status of the four VCs in Miyagi that have been accepting volunteers from outside of the prefecture:

Ishinomaki VC
is asking that volunteers coming during Golden Week register in advance.

Watari VC will not accept new volunteers from outside of the prefecture as of 5/1.

Iwanuma VC plans to continue accepting volunteers from outside of the prefecture, but there is great concern about the availability of jobs. The number of volunteers yesterday already climbed from 180 to 280. In the past, volunteers have been turned away at this VC or asked to wait when there has not been enough work to go around. There is also concern about the availability of parking and camping space.

Kessennuma VC
asks that larger groups register in advance and asks volunteers to bring extra gasoline in case local supplies are overwhelmed by the rush.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Comprehensive List of Volunteer Opportunities

* Posted in FVJ by Professor David H. Slater

Below is a list of volunteer opportunities, compiled from your suggestions and my Jochi students' fast net-work. (Thanks to both groups!)

No information on radiation or economics or donation--just volunteering. We hope it is useful to some.

Also, here are some advice from organizers:

Our first step in relief is still to give money; contribute to local organizations; or even to organize food and supply drives yourself where you are. Much of the work esp. up north is still being done by professionals. Let's support them.

But many people want to donate time and energy, esp. up north. That is great, too. But if you go, do NOT go on your own. It might be dangerous, but mostly it probably is a poor use of your time and energy. Go through an organization or group already set up. MOST ACCEPT VOLUNTEERS AS THEY NEED THEM, NOT ALL THE TIME. So, don't just show up; contact them first.

We have tried to find places that foreigners would be able to volunteer at, but of course these are organized to solicit and support Japanese volunteers first. (If you have no Japanese language ability, go with someone else who does; otherwise you will be draining off resources that could be spent other places.)

Remember, there are all sorts of work that needs to be done for all ages and levels of physical strength. But this work is not easy, whether you are cleaning out homes, moving
drift wood, bathing elderly people or cooking 2 meals a day for 500 people. If you are not healthy yourself, get full information on the sort of work expected.

If you go, please keep these in mind:

1. Dress appropriately for the cold.
2. Wear work clothes, including boots and gloves, etc.
3. You should have proper identification and insurance--some places will not accept you unless you do.
4. No picture-taking (no “disaster tourism;” what a term!)
5. For day-work, you are usually expected to supply your own food and water, and toilet paper, etc
6. Be ready to work hard, at least for a while; but be ready to stand around waiting, also. That is part of the deal.
7. Go with others....

It was suggested that you in groups—either groups of friends or better, with some school or work group. This work is stressful and rather shocking esp. if you head up north, and support for the supporters is useful.

Also, it is more likely that people will continue to volunteer again if there is some institutional link, eg., "Smash Tennis Club Relief to Miyagi” or “Hedge Fund Directors’ Collection Agency,” etc. that could organize things where you are and repeat trips to other sites.

Disclaimer: some links might be down or a bit different. And while all of these groups have some at least one recommendation, of course, we cannot guarantee all of the organizations here are working smoothly by the time you read this. Check it out yourself.

Volunteering FAQ from the Iwanuma Volunteer Center Blog

Volunteers wait in line to be matched with jobs at Iwanuma Volunteer Center

Interested in putting together a team to help with clean-up in Tohoku? Many volunteer centers are now accepting volunteers. If you're considering heading up during Golden Week, please keep in mind that many, many other people have the same intention, and Volunteer Centers in Tohoku are likely to be overwhelmed by the influx. If you can, please postpone your activities to a time when VCs will better be able to accommodate your help. When the time comes, here is some information to get you started.

Many VCs only accept local volunteers, to discourage an influx of volunteers from afar who would tax resources such as food, water, gasoline, etc. However, a few of the hardest-hit municipalities are currently accepting volunteers from throughout Japan. The conditions for volunteering vary from VC to VC. Some require registration in advance, others permit you to just show up that morning (or afternoon) and be matched with a job. Some have areas for volunteers to camp or sleep in vehicles, others request that volunteers find lodging elsewhere.

Before setting out to volunteer, be sure you acquire up-to-date information from the VC where you will be working. Much of the information is only available in Japanese, and for this and other reasons, I highly recommend putting together a team with at least one member who is fluent in Japanese and English. Not only is it important that the VC and local people you are helping are able to communicate their needs to you, volunteers need to be prepared to cope with emergency situations, injuries, etc. Here are some FAQ about volunteering taken from the
Iwanuma Volunteer Center blog
(scroll down for English.)









A. 現在、長期滞在の方は車中泊やテントを張ってその中で寝泊まりされる方が多いです。車中泊の方は、ボランティアセンターの近くに大きい駐車場がありますの でそこに車を停めていただくようになります。テントの方は、ボランティアセンターの近くの里の杜中央公園に設営場を設けておりますので、そちらにテントを 張っていただくようになります。公園にはトイレもありますので、そちらもご利用いただけます。

A. 今のところ県内・外のボランティアさんを受け入れ続ける予定です。現在も多くのお問合せがあり、多数のボランティアさんがいらっしゃることが予想されま す。受け入れ状況につきましては岩沼市災害ボランティアセンターのホームページにて随時更新していきますので、ご確認ください。

A. お店はほぼ通常営業に戻ってきています。食べ物や飲み物も岩沼市内で調達することは可能です。ガソリンの心配をされる方もいますが、並ばずに買えるぐらい 供給は安定しておりますのでご安心ください。ですが、自己完結がボランティアの基本ですので、できる限りご自身で準備して現地入りしていただけると助かり ます。



A. 岩沼市ボランティアセンターでは現在泥かきボランティアが中心となっています。女性でもたくさんの方が活躍していますので、是非ご協力ください。理容、 マッサージのボランティアの問い合わせが多いのですが、理容の方は現在間に合っております。ありがとうございます。マッサージ・理容のボランティアを希望 される方は避難所に直接問い合わせください。

(English version)
Iwanuma Volunteer Center Q&A

We are grateful for the assistance of volunteers from throughout the country. Here are responses to some frequently asked questions. If you have additional inquiries, we ask that you contact us [in Japanese] between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm.

Q) What are conditions currently like at the Volunteer Center?
A) In order to respond to the high demand for volunteer aid as quickly as possible volunteer activities are currently divided into two sessions (two hours each) in the morning and afternoon. Please bring your own lunch. It is fine if you can only participate in the morning or afternoon session. Please understand that due to the large numbers of volunteers offering their help, there are times when we cannot accommodate everyone in the morning volunteer session. If this happens, we will arrange for you to be first in line to be matched for volunteer work during the afternoon session.

Q) Do we need to make arrangements with the Volunteer Center before coming?
A) Individuals do not need to contact us before volunteering. You can report directly to the reception desk and sign in. We ask that groups of 8 people or more contact us in advance to let us know the number of participants coming, their schedule, and the materials they can bring.  Volunteers coming from outside of the city or prefecture are asked to acquire volunteer insurance with natural disaster coverage from their local branch of the Japan National Council of Social Welfare [Shakai Fukushi Kyogikai, [Japanese only]] Please bear the cost of the insurance yourself. [One year enrollment costs 490 yen]

Q) What do we need to bring?
A) You will most likely be helping to clear mud out of homes, so please wear comfortable clothing that can get dirty. We highly recommend wearing boots or safety shoes. If you can, please bring dust masks, safety goggles (especially if you wear contact lenses), shovels, etc.

Q) I can only come for one day. Is that okay?
A) Whatever time you are available to help out is fine. There are two reception periods, in the morning beginning at 8:30 am, and again in the afternoon beginning at 12:00 pm, so please come at the time that works best for you.

Q) Will I need to drive to the worksite in my own vehicle?
A) In order to prevent confusion, volunteers who come to the Volunteer Center in their own cars will be asked to park in the large parking area across the road. We will provide transportation to the work areas.

Q) I need somewhere to spend the night. Where should I stay?
A) Currently, many of our long-term volunteers are sleeping in tents or in their vehicles. If you wish to sleep in your vehicle, there is a large parking lot near the volunteer center and you may park there. For those sleeping in tents, you can set up in the Satonomori Chuo Koen Park near the Volunteer Center. There is a restroom in the park you can use.

Q) Will you be accepting volunteers during Golden Week?
A) At this time, we plan to continue to accept volunteers from Miyage Prefecture and beyond. We are currently receiving many inquiries and we expect that many volunteers will come during that period. For updates, please check the Iwanuma Disaster Volunteer Center Homepage.

Q) Can we buy things in Iwanuma?
A) Most of the local shops are up and running. It is possible to purchase food and beverages in Iwanuma City. Some volunteers worry about the availability of gasoline, but our supplies have stabilized to the point where there are no longer lines to fill up. That said, self-sufficiency is the cornerstone of volunteerism, so we appreciate if you can provide for your own needs as much as possible before coming to Iwanuma.

Q) Can I come by car?
A) Yes. Please park in the large parking lot across the street from the Sogo Fukushi Center (i-Plaza), not the one at the center. Due to aftershocks, some roads may be closed, so please check your route before coming. Thank you for your cooperation.

Q) Are there trains from Sendai to Iwanuma?
A) The JR lines are currently functioning, and it takes approximately 25 minutes (320 yen each way) from Sendai to Iwanuma. Trains are running on a limited schedule, so please look into matter on your own.

Q) Do you need volunteers for jobs other than shoveling mud?
A) Right now, shoveling mud is the main job available at the Iwanuma Volunteer Center. Many women are participating, so we urge you to help as well. We receive many inquiries about whether we need barber and massage volunteers, but at the moment we have enough barbers. Thank you for wanting to help. If you want to do barber or massage volunteer work, please contact the evacuation center.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


* Written by Rob Keyworth 


Where to start..? This will hopefully be the last note that I do as I don’t think it will be needed for us to physically go north with aid, but I also think this might be the hardest to write.

The simple facts are these:
Robert Half in Tokyo funded the truck, we picked up some stuff from Scott in Roppongi that had been donated by the TAC and Baxter medical. We collected more donations from Second Harvest and drove North to our base in Mizusawa. We bought a lot of fruit and vegetables in Kitakami and spent Sunday and Monday morning distributing about 3 tons of Aid to those who most need it and arrived back in Tokyo at around 9 pm on Monday night.

But that doesn’t begin to describe the weekend. Dave mentioned that in my previous notes I managed to write a lot but report very little which was something I’d perfected studying Geography at University. So for this one I will try to report in some kind of detail but it won’t begin to cover everything that needs to be said.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bikes For Tohoku - Japan Coast to Coast, Nagoya

This article was sourced through Supporting Japan, an umbrella group in Nagoya that encompasses a number of groups working independently, but enjoying the support of the greater community.  This group, Bikes For Tohoku, grew out of a bicycle group that puts on charity rides around Japan.  Sourcing bikes for people in need seemed the logical next step when the need for them became known. 

The article was written jointly by Mark McBennet, and Tony Torres. 

Mark McBennett

The idea of Bikes For Tohoku, like many ideas these days, grew out of connections made and discussions started in the online world of LinkedIn and Facebook. In one such discussion, the Japan head of major cycling brand responded positively to the idea of donating bikes to people without transport in Tohoku. Japan Coast to Coast is working with them to organize the logistics of getting several hundred new bikes distributed to where they are most needed in the region. Bike companies have a history of giving generously in the aftermath of natural disasters, but their response time can be somewhat delayed by the logistical issues of international shipping and lack of access and information about the worst hit disaster areas. JC2C learned of immediate needs for bikes in evacuation shelters in Tohoku, so it was decided to start addressing this need by putting out a call for Aichi residents to donate their used bikes.

Donors located all across the city and the difficulty for many people of delivering something as bulky as a bicycle meant that the plan had some logistical issues of its own. When the Circles bike shop in downtown Nagoya offered not only temporary storage space but also minor maintenance for donated bikes, things became a little more manageable. And when Mizuno-san, the head of the Shorinji Kempo branch in Higashiura, generously donated 10 new bikes and Iwatsuki-san and his other students organized the collection of over a dozen more, JC2C had its first truckload.

Donating to Foreign Volunteers Japan

Hello everyone,

Thank you very much for your interest in Foreign Volunteers Japan and our project to collect food and essential supplies for distributing to the people of Tohoku who have lost their houses, family members, and even some complete villages due to the devastating tsunami which followed the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Sendai earthquake. 

Our mission is to bring as much food and as many supplies as possible to the areas that were severely affected by the Tsunami, but have so far gone neglected by the recovery efforts. Due to the massiveness of the Tsunami's reach, there are many areas that are facing extreme shortages of daily necessities, this lack of necessary supplies is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Since the FVJ project began soon after the earthquake, our group has managed to send thirty trucks up to deliver food and supplies to the disaster, thanks to the generous support of NGOs such as Second Harvest Japan and the Tokyo IS Support Center for helping fill our trucks with additional supplies and food, private donors for sponsoring the bulk purchase of supplies, to Allied Pickford for providing trucks and drivers, and to IKON Europubs and Bluesilver Events for providing logistics, storage and collection support. The initial donation that got this project started was an 8 ton donation of baked beans. Many of the emergency shelters up North are serving onigiri (rice balls) and miso soup, but refugees are lacking vegetables and other nutrient-rich ingredients that could add sustenance to their meals. Which is why even several tons of beans are likely to make a difference in this afflicted area.  While that was the initial donation, they are now looking for the following: (Updated April 17th, 2011)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Volunteering during Golden Week.

* Note, thanks to Japan Volunteers, AJET, Adventures in Gradland, and others for the links, recommendations and information.

Before making the decision to volunteer in Tohoku during Golden Week, please consider the following points:

1) You may be able to help more from home:

You can help out wherever you are now by making material/monetary donations, doing fundraisers, donating blood or hosting displaced people through CouchSurfing.  Going to the Tohoku region isn’t something to do because you want to be a hero or because of peer pressure, it is a very serious decision.

2) Do not go to Tohoku without support:

Going alone without the support of a recognized organization puts you and disaster victims in danger. Especially if you are untrained/unskilled, you can actually make matters worse.

3) Make sure you’re physically and mentally prepared:

Foreign Volunteers Japan and the volunteer organizations ask you to seriously consider your physical and mental health. There will be things that you may not expect or want to see.  You will be doing heavy, physical labor after a very long journey by bus and communication in your non-native language in such an environment will put extra stress on you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Town of Taro

Written by Rob Keyworth, Foreign Volunteers Japan

Delivering 5 tons of Aid to the Green Pia distribution centre near Taro, Iwate.

Here’s a brief update from the fundraiser to support the town of Taro, and what we’ve been doing since then.

We raised 428,350 yen from the Race Night at Paddy Foley’s – thank you very much for all who attended.

As a result of this we were able to take 3 trucks up to Tohoku.
The initial plan was to leave Saturday morning and return on Sunday but as there was a strong aftershock on Thursday night we delayed until the roads were open and the electricity was back on. We probably could have gone earlier but it was only at 10 am on Saturday morning that we were able to confirm that we were able to get diesel all the way up the Tohoku Expressway and we didn’t want to create an issue up there by getting stranded. This proved to be a wise decision as one of the trucks had a very small gas tank and so the delay was probably the correct call.

We had arranged to collect aid from three different locations – Thomas’ bar in Zushi, Allied Pickford’s offices in Roppongi and Second Harvest in Asakusabashi. On top of that we used some of the money we raised to buy things before we left which included toothbrushes, toys, games, puzzles etc. So all three vans were pretty well stocked when we left Tokyo.

The journey up was pretty uneventful and we got to the hotel in Mizusawa Iwate by about 8 pm. We refueled there and made plans for the next day. Dave’s friend Jonathan had scouted the area and found that there are a couple of areas that still weren’t getting enough supplies so we decided that we should head to the distribution centre for the town of Taro.

Japan 11 111

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Volunteer Opportunities with NGO JEN

NGO JEN is looking for volunteers for its soup kitchen and sludge removal projects. 

Reposted from NGO JEN blog. Image (C) JEN

JEN is an NGO with a wealth of experience in disaster relief, focused on needs assessment, coordinating with other international organizations, scouting for local manpower and managing support projects to adapting all of these to a variety of situations.  They are currently handling projects in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Sudan, Iraq, Haiti, and now Miyagi. They are a very effective at the work they do. Their well-proven objective is not to execute one-time relief work, but to work through an established process to insure sustainable recovery in each of the areas where they set up operations.

Soup Kitchen Volunteers: 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Fruit Tree Project

April 13, 2011 *UPDATE*
Hey folks, this is the funds proposal I have been sending out in hopes of receiving funding to get this project rolling. Please take a look and definitely get back to me with your thoughts/opinions. Also feel free to pass it along to anyone who might be interested in supporting this project. 10 days you might ask? Well, plain and simple, it would be very difficult to sustain this project long term, considering how grassroots our efforts are at this moment. BUT, this project will raise awareness of this issue and hopefully set an example and challenge larger organizations and government programs to continue to provide fruits!!! Minami and I were SHOCKED when we found out that there was a wholesale fruit market in Kesennuma with an abundance of fruit, yet people in shelters were not receiving anything! This has to change. Kesennuma isn’t the only town either! Many reports from other shelters and devastation areas are coming back saying the same thing, WE NEED FRUIT! The Fruit Tree Project will be as successful as funds allow! So please spread the word, and let’s start making moves!
Hello, my name is Paul Yoo and I am a current JET in Yurihonjo, Akita. In wake of the recent disaster, we, in Akita, have actively been involved in the relief efforts and are doing our best to contribute in this time of need. Please take a look at this website for more detailed accounts of our activities ( The Fruit Tree Project spawned from our trip down to Kesennuma last week to drop off supplies. While at the shelter we had the opportunity to talk about what their needs were, and FRESH FRUIT was their unanimous answer. After leaving the shelter we contacted a local store manager who agreed to help us in our efforts, and offered to make orders for us from his wholesale fruit provider (located in Kesennuma!!!). He assured us that all of our orders could be accommodated for as long as we placed them the day before. The details for this plan are SET. The only thing we need now is funding. It is heart-breaking to know that the people aren’t able to get what they need, especially with a source so close to them. We have to change this. Right now, the shelter I am in contact with, accommodates 1100 people and receives prepared meals from the Japanese military. They get a bowl of rice and miso soup. For this first project, my goal is to establish the infrastructure it takes to get fresh fruits into the shelters, while also raising awareness of this issue. My hope is that others, who are looking to make a difference, will continue the Fruit Tree Project in other cities and towns effected by the disaster.
Timeline/Goals: I want to take advantage of Golden Week and head down to Kesennuma for 10 days (April 29th – May 8th) making multiple deliveries per day. My goal for this mission is to first and foremost get fruits into the shelters. Second, is to raise awareness of this issue so others can follow our lead and continue the Fruit Tree Project throughout the devastated areas.

Monday, April 11, 2011

25 hours to Kesennuma

Written by Rob Keyworth, Foreign Volunteers Japan

(* Photos to be added shortly)

Apologies if none of this makes much sense but I've not had much sleep

As you probably know, Dave and I went up to Kesennuma yesterday to deliver some supplies to the people who need it. This is a match report of the 25 hours that covered the 1100 km round trip and a bit of background thrown in.

Dave and I decided earlier this week that we would take some stuff to the people who have been most affected by the Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake and decided that Kesennuma would be the best destination.

I'd seen the footage on the Telegraph of the 7 minutes where the tsunami destroyed the town but also I discovered that they had 13,000 people in shelters and there was one main distribution centre. This was key for me because my Japanese is appalling and I thought it was important that we could do some good without creating any issues and if we were driving from shelter to shelter with only one Japanese speaker it could create issues. And it was also not fair on Dave to have to deal with that side of things completely on his own so we decided we'd do a big drop to one area and they would then be able to allocate the resources that we were able to deliver.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bicycle repair guy: Daiki Mochizuki

This is an entry by Henry Osborn, on behalf of Bikes for Japan


Daiki Mochizuki (blog: works at bicycle and motorbike repair shop in Omiya. Having originally trained to be a dancer, Daiki discovered bikes when he started cycling as part of rehabilitation, when recovering from a leg injury. He started repairing bikes at the shop - mainly for the police and postal services - three years ago. In his twenties, Daiki has two young kids - a girl called Shino and a boy called Ren. After a week of following the plights of thousands of families following the Tohoku earthquake he decided to drop what he was doing, and drove up to Sendai by himself without any set plans ahead to see what he could do to help people there. He took his tools and as many bicycle parts with him as he could carry, while everyone else was heading the other way. He arrived in Sendai and tracked down a shelter in Tagajo-shi - a big shelter housing around 1,000 people. He set up a site and told people he’d come to fix their bikes. He started repairing the bicycles brought to him for free, returning to Tokyo a few days later. He's been doing this every week since then. Driving up at midnight, staying for 2 days, fixing as many bikes as he can, then coming back to work at his shop in Omiya.

Daiki now has 4 other colleagues from the repair shop voluntarily working with him. They take it in turns to travel up to Sendai together. They've so far worked with 4 shelters. Each time they go to a shelter, if they work around the clock they can fix up about 40 bikes per day. There are always more bikes in need of repair, and never enough time or hands to go around. The bike shops in the areas were all destroyed and have no parts coming in so there are no other on-site support channels available. All the activities they have done so far have been completely self-funded.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Join Foreign Volunteers Japan on Facebook

If you haven’t yet joined Foreign Volunteers Japan on Facebook and would like to help out with our efforts providing; food, and daily goods to the disaster areas, here's the link;
 Foreign Volunteers Japan Facebook Group 
This group is created to gather willing foreigners, who wish to do volunteer work at an appropriate time and when required in the wake of the disaster. At this present time, whilst many of you would like to get started now, it is preferable to let the experts do their work unhindered and assess what needs to be done. In the meantime, stay safe. If and when required, we will share information regarding volunteer activities.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Foreign Volunteers Japan Delivery Missions

Since I’ve had the chance to join in on two delivery missions with the group, and one with Beau Retallick’s group, I thought I should take this chance to elaborate on what exactly these missions entail.
2011-03-27 FVJ - Ishinomaki Local Conditions 183

Currently, there are shortages of gasoline and rental trucks across Japan. As you could imagine, this creates one of the largest logistical challenges for anyone organizing deliveries up to Tohoku. For our first two trips, we were able to secure a special “Emergency Relief Vehicle” permit for our trucks from local police departments. That allowed us access to the still-closed Tohoku expressway, and emergency vehicles are allowed to cut into gasoline lines at local stations.

Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities

Second Harvest (Info about regular volunteer activities)

Mizuta Building 4-5-1 Asakusabashi, Taito, Tokyo

Second Harvest is sending trucks with food and material aid to evacuation centers in Tohoku. They need volunteers to collect, sort and load donated items. They also need drivers. Please contact them at the above email address for more information.

Peace Boat

B1, 3-13-1 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075

Peace Boat needs volunteers both to help with relief efforts in Ishinomaki City and to raise funds and sort donations in Tokyo. They ask volunteers to attend an orientation seminar first. Please contact Arata Otake at the above email address for more information. Please provide personal details (Full name, Age, Gender, Address, Telephone number, E-mail, Availability, Language ability) and specify whether you are interested in volunteering in Tokyo or Ishinomaki.

Volunteer Opportunities with NGO JEN 

NGO JEN is looking for volunteers for its soup kitchen and sludge removal projects. 

Soup Kitchen Volunteers: 

JEN dispatched its first team to Miyagi prefecture immediately after the earthquake, and conducted damage and needs assessment and assessment of transportation and procurement routes. Along with these assessments, JEN distributed emergency supplies of clothing, hygiene kits and food for soup kitchens. They also provided hot meals for 600 people in evacuation centers with the cooperation of earthquake/tsunami victims. They have decided to organize soup kitchen in Ishinomaki to provide hot meals for those who have difficulties securing food.

Now they are calling for volunteers to support them in their soup kitchen.
The details for the soup kitchen volunteer opportunities, and application forms can be found here: 

Sludge Removal Volunteers
Sludge, brought by the tsunami, is now emitting disturbing odor around communities. It has been more than three weeks since the incident, and the sludge is drying up and hardening. Gradually this sludge will turn into dust. The dust will be blown up into the air which can have perverse effects to our health. The tsunami brought heavy mud and sludge inside houses. Tatami mats and furniture have absorbed water (one tatami can weigh up to 100kg), thus women and elderly cannot even clean up their houses. Most of the people staying at their homes live on the second floor because the ground floor is covered with mud and sludge. There are also evacuees who could return home once mud and sludge is cleared.

JEN is now procuring equipment and preparing to receive volunteers while coordinating with other organizations. They are now calling for volunteers to help them remove mud and sludge from houses.
The details for sludge removal volunteer opportunities can be found here: 

EARTH DAY MONEY: Calling for Host families for Earthquake Evacuees
Please offer your "home" to ease hardships of the earthquake evacuees.

Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) are looking for volunteers who can provide counselling over the phone.

For more volunteer opportunities, 
please follow the Japan Volunteers Blog: