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Golden Week volunteers overwhelm some disaster sites

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You can never have enough volunteers. As time goes on there might be a shortage, so count your blessings and hope this continues.

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paulinusa: On the contrary, you CAN have too many volunteers. What are a dozen people who suddenly show up going to do? They will need housing, need to be shown around, need food and heat, and told what to do -- that means they will need to be guided by a person who could be helping those affected by the disasters.

Don't get me wrong -- the desire to help and volunteer is a good thing by all means, but still. There are other ways to help than showing up and being a burden.

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I wish the government would come release information about raising taxes to cover this as alot of people are holding off donations cause they dont want to double down

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Yeah baby, that's beautiful. Everyone jump in, don't depend on government. Keep Freedom going forever.

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smith: While I can't disagree with what you say, you have to consider that Japan has never had a culture of volunteering. At some point they will lose their passion and become more preoccupied with their own lives. That's why I think you have to take advantage of them as much as possible at the present time.

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I won't be in Japan until early Sept but would still like to do whatever is still available to help out some of the sites for a week or two. Maybe they are capitalizing on heroic feelings and high spirits of the moment; but burnout is a concern since the All hands volunteer group, as one example, is only advertising for workers through July. ???

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I got turned down too because there were too many.

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It is awesome to see the number of people with a desire to help the stricken. This truly marks a turning point in Japanese history. The law changes in 1998 did spur an increase in small aid organizations but there were mechanisms in place before that would have enabled groups to operate legally such as tbe shadanhoujin and others.

The thing that kept them from forming was simple apathy. Having their paradigms turned upside down after coming off the bursting of tbe economic bubble and further the embarrassment of foreigners flooding in to volunteer after the Kobe disaster, coupled with the government's ineptitude led to great changes here.

As for volunteering, There can be too much of a good thing

people would do best to see what they can do in their own communities first. they should contact agencies FIRST to see how and when they can be of the most help. companies can offer time off to employees wishing to help to even out the workload by providing a steady workforce. They would do well to understand that by expecting agencies to feed and house them, they ate using valuable resource that could be used to help the victims

In kansai a good group to contact would be KOZMOZ INTERNATIONAL

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There will be a need for new volunteers throughout the clean-up because the work is demanding and the current volunteers are going to need "down-time" to recover their stamina. I would think the huge surge in volunteers during Golden Week would rapidly exceed the number of volunteers who need a break, however.

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Want to help? Then give money and stay at home. Unless you're a medical specialist, building engineer, etc. you will probably make things worse by straining the already strained infrastructure. You'll be using shelter and food that could be used for victims.

Plenty of local fishers, workers, etc have been left jobless from the disaster. Better that the government employ their labor and pay them wages than to have outsiders do the labor for free.

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@Foxie a pint of blood will never be turned down so stick your arm in the blood bank and let them have a scoop

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JeffLee, wrong. Most people have something they can do. My friend is a bicycle enthusiast who often enters bike races. He and his friends went up to fix bicycle tires. He's a systems engineer, by the way. I know of others who went just to big massages or to talk to people. Right now there's plenty of food but there are many other small things that ordinary people (not "specialists") can do.

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Hint for you all wanting to volunteer or give donations etc..do not waste your time with the Japanese government, and call many of the local churches, yes Christian churches hat are on the ground in Miyagi prefecture etc..this is how I have been able to cut through lots of Japanese red tape/bs etc..Many of these Christian aid organizations are on the ground since the earthquake and I just talked to a young priest from Tokyo who has been going back and forth from Tokyo to Ishinomaki etc..for WOMEN to be very, very careful, at night, these places have no electricity, dark and many people are going nuts after the earthquake, so rapes etc..This info I am getting from volunteers (Japanese) also robberies, murders etc..are happening in these disaster areas but the regular NHK, etc..WILL NOT COVER nor BROADCAST any of this kind of news. Please be very careful if you do want to go and help. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and with also all of the brave men and women who are trying to do something positive for their fellow man and woman.

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I'm overwhelmed by the negative tone of this article - "bracing for an influx of volunteers on four-day tours organized by travel agencies"; "volunteer groups who descend on trouble spots". Makes people sound like a plague. First - these are groups, not individuals pitching up in cars. Second, well duh, like noone foresaw this? If people were getting new logistics networks up and running, crowd sourcing all kind of things within days, is it so hard to anticipate that lots will want to give up their free time in Golden Week, and for some of those people in evacuation shelters who've lost their livelehoods to team up and organise things, based on local needs? That way they get the help they so desparately need with the endless clearing of mud and (smaller) debris, and the people who are doing this, maybe for the first time in their lives, get the acknowledgement and the encouragement to do it some more. That way, maybe new links will be forged, and people will return in other moments to help some more. It seems like classic bureaucratic rigidity and we won't do it because there's no manual. Real sad. And as for the comments of, well, they aren't out spending money like good tourists - leaves me speechless. People are self-financing to go up and help for Gawd's sake. And all the time they're up there, they're consuming. Jeez, gimme a break! Of course there are loads of things they can do. Lonely, stressed older people shut up in shelters without cars can get out and about, get away from the shelters, maybe be taken out for a nice meal or to a sento or onsen, a walk in the hills away from the disaster zone, a shopping trip to Sendai...

This is so depressing. Such a lack of creativity, ability to respond to something new, anticipate and plan. It's the whole nuclear crisis writ large isn't it? And it comes down to people who are NOT the most affect saying "No thanks, he doesn't need sugar in his tea." Perhaps if people in shelters were more involved, they could come up with a more effective response to this.

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wow, way to take what should be a positive and turn it into a negative

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Paulinusa: "While I can't disagree with what you say, you have to consider that Japan has never had a culture of volunteering."

Not sure about that, although granted a lot of the 'volunteering' in Japan is more or less forced (ex. 'volunteering' to be in your neighbourhood association, or in the PTA).

"At some point they will lose their passion and become more preoccupied with their own lives. That's why I think you have to take advantage of them as much as possible at the present time."

Well, I hope they never do lose the passion. I think if they have specialities that are in demand and go through the proper channels it's a good thing, but just showing up out of the blue and looking around wondering what to do is only getting in the way.

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Big misconceptions propagated by the media/authorities so they don't look bad.

There is not enough food and besides housing it is the greatest need right now.

I have been transporting food and supplies from kyoto for kozmoz since the quake. Most of the victims right now are receiving one meal a day. I just got back with a truck full of fresh vegetables. It was the first veggies that the five shelters have received.

And yes there are a lot of creative things that people can and should be doing but take your own food and tent and have a real plan. But surely the most overlooked for of help is at home if you live in japan. House a victim, contact a group and help them gather necessities, lend a truck, etc. Just do something! This is far from over.

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I'm going to Ishinomaki during Golden Week, as a volunteer with the Nikkei Youth Network. They provide transportation, basic lodging in a gymnasium and don't charge any fees, other than a simple 1,400 Yen for insurance. Highly recommended organization!

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My fiancee's father and sister also went as volunteers in Miyagi yesterday. I guess that many other Japanese (and non-Japanese) did the same.

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We had to cancel a reconstruction trip today offering free schools, orphanages and medical clinics because there were no hotel rooms available even 90 kms from the disaster area. What is more important? Do good-ers doing no good or us giving hope? I just do not get this country.

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"It is awesome to see the number of people with a desire to help the stricken."

The stricken. The poor. The aged. The disabled.

All of those people used to have lives and dignity and humanity. Now they are just adjectives whom someone can feel sorry for. The shelters must seem like a zoo.

56 of 65 of the areas where people who have been displaced now reside have asked that no new volunteers come. All of those people need to get their lives in order. They need to have attention by local governments and some kind of stability and routine. However well intentioned the volunteer tourists might be, they have been asked, politely, for about 4 weeks now by my reckoning, to just stay away.

Alternatively, I know it lacks a human touch, but take a group and go stack garbage at the coast. There is all kinds of stuff scattered everywhere, and it will take money to gather it up and get rid of it all. Or go clear a train station up the coast as the US military have been doing.

Think seriously about your motivations and consider that when you are not really helping people by volunteering, you are performing a selfish act, not a selfless one.

"Most of the victims right now are receiving one meal a day."

There is no way that Hakujinsensei could know this. I believe it is false. I do not know how it could possibly be true. I see the same demagoguery rearing up now as I did a couple of weeks ago for Fukushima. Like this:

"Big misconceptions propagated by the media/authorities so they don't look bad."

Yeah. It is one big bad conspiracy delicately and skillfully handled by people who are at the same time too stupid to do their jobs right, is that it? And how about this? Families, for instance those with four kids, are being given 8.9 man per month in rent subsidies to go find homes to rent, and there are thousands of temporary homes being constructed right now, but Hakujinsensei lets this fly:

"There is not enough food and besides housing it is the greatest need right now."

And Elbuda tells us not to trust the media. ONLY TRUST HEARSAY, everyone.

"This info I am getting from volunteers (Japanese) also robberies, murders etc..are happening in these disaster areas but the regular NHK, etc..WILL NOT COVER nor BROADCAST any of this kind of news."

Wow. News organizations will not cover it. Amazing. And considering the number of police I see in those areas, this seems extremely unlikely. ElBuda, even the LOCAL papers cannot find these stories you hear about. Doesn't that seem odd to you? Don't you think a crisis of public safety, if it existed, would be reported?

But can we all consider that if ElBuda was correct, then maybe limiting the number of outsiders bothering victims day and night would be a GOOD thing, right?

I am all in favor of reinstating civil order in these areas and kicking all the do-gooders out to go do-good someplace else. If you want to help, write a letter to your rep. in Nagatacho and let them fund local governments to help their own people. I do not see how this circus of chaos and people coming and going is a good thing. Get nagatacho to fund some real companies hiring real workers who can act professionally and get to work.

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Klein2, you hit the nail on the head. Most of these do-gooders are whack jobs. Especially the ones that could only make time to go on golden week. And the shelters need no volunteers. what volunteers can do is shovel mud and help stack debris.

I can an do know the exact situation because I am in contact with many organizations throughout Miyagi and Iwate. Like I said in my previous post, I have personally gathered ton after ton of rice, vegetables and supplies. Exactly what they asked our group for. If you would like first hand information, feel free to call me at 08053076441

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