We really appreciate the overwhelming support that JETs all around the country have expressed for the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku. For those of you who were unaffected, I know it’s hard to just sit around. However, it is best not to rush to affected areas:
1. There is a very good chance that the region will experience another violent earthquake over the next few days.
2. Untrained, uncoordinated volunteers (despite good intentions) can put a strain on infrastructure and support services that could otherwise help victims (this occurred in Haiti after the earthquake there in 2010).
3. Your insurance coverage will probably not extend to volunteer work in a disaster region. AJET is actually checking into this now to get details.
As of last night, AJET and people involved with Smile Kids Japan are planning to set up a volunteer bank for those of you who are interested in volunteering during Spring Break that will match people who want to help with organizations that can use them. More information will be coming soon, expect an update by the end of the day tomorrow, Tuesday, March 15th.
For now, hang tight and watch the AJET Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/NationalAJET), the National AJET Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AJETJapan) or website (ajet.net) for info on this. AJET folks are working around the clock to update info as soon as we can prepare/confirm it.
Also, be sure to register yourself with your embassy (links can be found on the right-hand side of ajet.net below our twitter feed) and update that information if it changes. Also, tell people on the ground where you are if you travel. Your CO should know your whereabouts — but also be sure to let friends and family know where you’ll be as well.
I know many of you want to do something to help, but for now the best way to help is:
- to donate money to relief organizations (info on our fb, twitter)
- to donate blood See if you qualify.
- to offer accommodation to someone left homeless by the earthquake (http://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=39703)
- to be prepared (http://ajet.net/lang/en/2011/03/13/emergency-proceduresinformation-evacuation-card/)
- and to stay calm — don’t add to sensationalist rumors. If you are posting information on facebook, twitter and other media outlets, please make sure that you use credible sources. Include your source and as much information as possible.