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Friday, 13th May 2011

Volunteering projects in Tohoku

How can I volunteer to help the Tohoku relief effort?

Among the kind words of support and financial contributions to our fundraising for Civic Force, since the Tohoku Tsunami struck weíve heard this question time and time again.

Until now thereís not been an easy answer. The message from Japan was quite clear; for the time being, unskilled volunteers, although well-meaning, are better off staying at home. Especially if you canít speak fluent Japanese. Let the professionals aid organisations do their job unhindered.

In the aftermath of other disasters such as the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami or the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, NGOs were swamped with inexperienced volunteers turning up with good intentions. Yet volunteers need managing and feeding, slowing down the whole process and perhaps taking valuable resources away from those most in need.

However now, two months after the Tohoku Tsunami, Japanís priorities have changed. Essential life saving resources (food, shelter, medical supplies) have been distributed and today itís time for the big clean up to begin. Itís time for people to rebuild their lives and salvage destroyed homes, towns and communities. And for they need as much help as they can get.

We are excited to announce our collaboration with the volunteer organisation RQ Citizens Disaster Relief Network Japan (RQ-CNJ). Together we will be running 4 day volunteering trips to Miyagi Prefecture .

The 4 day project includes 3 nights accommodation in Matsushima sharing a Japanese-style room of 2-6 people; coach transfers to and from Tokyo; 3 meals a day and all necessary equipment: rain boots, rubber gloves, cap, dust mask, dust proof goggles. Groups, with a minimum of 8 participants, will be accompanied by an English speaking assistant throughout the 4 day itinerary.

Our volunteers will work along the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, in Ishinomaki or on the Oshika Peninsula. Tasks include cleaning homes and schools, removing rubble and restoring water damage. You may be asked to clear roads, fields or rice paddies alongside local Japanese people whose lives you are helping to rebuild.

Let it be clear, this is manual labour and it will be tough physically as well as emotionally. However we hope this will be a rewarding experience for volunteers; a chance to really connect with Japan and give something back to this wonderful country.

Related news stories:
Plans for tourist Wi-Fi unveiled (17th June 2014)
New magazine focuses on dark tourism sites in Japan (9th September 2015)