We’re taking a quick break from our regularly scheduled HomeFixated program today. As you surely know, Japan experienced one hell of an earthquake recently – one that triggered a devastating tsunami that all but wiped out the northeast area of the country. The words “wiped out” don’t convey how badly this force of nature has destroyed the area: at the time of writing this post, an estimated 12,000 people are dead or missing (a number that keeps rising) and 430,000 people are homeless.
To put that into a North American perspective, that’s the equivalent of the entire city of Miami, Virginia Beach or Cleveland suddenly having all their homes ripped away. Entire towns – families, houses, businesses, farms – are gone. The area has been dealing with aftershock after aftershock, many higher than five on the Richter scale, in the midst of rescue efforts. And, to make matters even more dire, there’s potential for a nuclear fallout due to serious damage to the country’s nuclear energy plants. We join countless others in offering our condolences and thoughts to the people of Japan, and urge you to donate to relief efforts. We’ve provided some donation options to consider.
While there are many fantastic organizations – ranging from church-based groups to independent medical teams to children’s charities – that are actively fundraising and / or actually going to Japan to physically pitch-in, we’d like to gently encourage you to (also) donate to the Red Cross. This isn’t about our personal preference, it’s simply because the situation in Japan is so unsteady that it’s important that those who go to help are fully equipped and ready to do so now. We’ve already read about various rescue, charitable and relief teams who have arrived in Japan, only to turn around and come home days later as they weren’t prepared to deal with a possible nuclear emergency. To be fair, I don’t think anyone is fully prepared to deal with a nuclear emergency, but from all indications, Red Cross are the experts in the disaster relief field, are already mobilized in Japan, and are still working while others are (understandably) evacuating. Here’s how to donate:
- American Red Cross. 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donate online, by phone, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10
- Canadian Red Cross. 1-800-418-1111. Donate online, by phone or text REDCROSS to 30333 to give $10 or ASIA to give $5
- Google has set up a portal that allows you to donate directly to the Japanese Red Cross. It’s in yen, but it will show you the currency conversion before finalizing your payment (but to give you an idea, ¥4,000 is about $50 US).
Again, if Red Cross is not your thing, there are a host of other charities you can donate to. We recommend choosing one that you’re already familiar with and know you can trust. Unfortunately, these disasters can sometimes bring out the worst in people, and scammers are out there. Research before you donate.
I recognize that donating to charity is a deeply personal decision. That said, I’ve heard snippets of online conversations where people have suggested that since Japan is a rich country, it doesn’t really need donations. I’ll simply mention that it wasn’t so long ago when the Japanese people helped a certain other rich country, to the tune of $16 million in donations, when a hurricane called Katrina hit its shores. Japan has asked for help. If you’re in the position to offer some, please give it today.