Help for Japan

21 03 2011

Kinkakuji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kyoto, Japan)

 By now, we’ve all seen the horrific pictures and know what happened over 10 days ago:  On March 11, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the northeastern coast of Japan.  The latest reports say the Japanese police estimate (as of March 20) that more than 18,000 people have perished in the disaster – over 15,000 of them in Miyagi Prefecture along the coast, which took the brunt of the tsunami.  Many thousands have been evacuated from areas under threat of radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants; and some coastal towns were simply swept away altogether by the tsunami.

Many of us (myself included) have wondered what can be done to help the people in Japan impacted by the disaster.  So I did some research and wanted to share a few ideas here.

One very good relief agency that I know of from my personal connection to Portland, Oregon is Mercy Corps.  Founded in 1979, this group (which is based in Portland) has teams of aid workers in 36 countries, working to relief suffering and poverty.  According to the group’s website, 95 percent of Mercy Corps team members are nationals of the countries for which they work.  In Japan, Mercy Corps is partnering with its Japanese sister organization, Peace Winds Japan, to bring aid and comfort to those impacted by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  To donate or for more information, call Mercy Corps at 1-888-747-7440, or visit their website at www.mercycorps.org.

By the way:  Before giving to any charity, it’s a very good idea to do a bit of prior research, and to make sure your money is going to the people who need it – and that it is being used effectively.  One good source of information I found is Charity Navigator, a website that reports on charities and aid organizations.  You can find a list of charities there that are currently providing aid to Japan, their ratings, and much more.

The internet search engine Google currently has a page with links (and buttons to donate) to the Japanese Red Cross Society, International Medical Corps, Unicef, and Save the Children, along with other information about the disaster.

Finally, if you would like to give to an organization here in Sacramento that is trying to help, please contact the Sacramento Buddhist Church, located at 2401 Riverside Blvd.  They are currently accepting monetary donations, which will be forwarded to their home temple in Kyoto, Japan, the Hongwanji (Temple of the Primal Vow), for direct purchase and distribution of drinking water, food and medical supplies for the victims of the disaster.  For more information, please call the Sacramento Buddhist Church at (916) 446-0121, or e-mail them at betsuinoffice@gmail.com.

Thank you for whatever assistance you may be able to provide.  And I hope you will please keep the people of Japan in your thoughts and prayers.

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