A friend in Japan, a friend to Japan

My best friend is one of the many Americans who live and work in Japan. On Friday afternoon at about 2:45 PM local time, she was curled up under her desk, thinking about her loved ones, praying for her safety, and riding out one of the worst earthquakes on record.

When I asked her if she’d like to share her story on this blog, she said that she still hadn’t come to terms with the quake and was unable to write about it – though she did give me permission to tell you about her, for which I am grateful.

My friend lives inland, in the mountains, a good three hours south of the most devastated parts of Japan. She’s safe. Her friends are safe. She has food and water and shelter and (most of the time) electricity. Her possessions are undamaged. She’s very lucky, and she knows it. But still, my friend can’t put her feelings into words just yet.

Compare her situation to that of the unlucky hundreds of thousands who live further north. I can’t even begin to comprehend what they’re living through, and in a way, I think it would be presumptuous to even try. There is no way I can do justice to their suffering.

What I can do (and what I have suggested to some of my other friends) is make a donation to a reputable charity. I can’t go to Japan and help with the search and rescue operations. I can’t distribute supplies. I can’t provide medical care. But I can make it possible for trained professionals to reach these areas and help the people of Japan in a safe, efficient, and effective manner.

So please, if you are so inclined and are able, consider supporting the relief efforts in Japan. At the end of this post there is a list of organizations that you can contact, though of course you are always welcome to choose your own. And if you’d care to suggest any other organizations, please do so in the comments section.

– Amy

The world of dew
is a world of dew,
and yet, and yet…

– Issa, translated by Robert Hass

Giving Tools

  • Charity Navigator is  a nonprofit organization that analyzes the finances of charitable organizations, so you can choose the charity where your money will do the most good. The site also provides tips to help you plan when and how to donate.
  • Forbes magazine provides a list of America’s 200 largest charities. If you sort the table by “Charitable Commitment,” you can see which charities are most efficient with your donations.
  • Safe Donations to Victims of the Tsunami in Japan – helpful advice for donations at any time, really. From Consumerism Commentary.

Selected Charities

  • AmeriCares specializes in emergency response and disaster relief assistance. Their emergency response manager is already in Japan.
  • Pittsburgh-based Brother’s Brother Foundation is partnering with the Japan-American Society of Pennsylvania, just as they did after the 1995 earthquake in Kobe. Forbes magazine also considers them one of the country’s most efficient charities.
  • Direct Relief International provides medical supplies and equipment.
  • One of my coworkers who lived in northeastern Japan for two years knows the people at Jhelp, who are currently working in Sendai. They even accept donated airline miles so that they can bring in more volunteers.
  • World Vision is an organization that usually provides microloans, but in this case has switched to accepting donations.

Additional links


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4 responses to “A friend in Japan, a friend to Japan

  1. Pingback: Helping Japan « CLPTeensburgh: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Teen Services

  2. Whitney

    Thank you Amy. Got my donation in and my work is matching it dollar-for-dollar too.

  3. For online trusted donation, one can visit Japan Relief page to help survivors of Japan Earthquake and Tsunami by donating to non-profits listed there.

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