Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving
AAR Japan - Children in Fukushima
AAR Japan - Children in Fukushima

Summer has come and gone in Tohoku, and our partners made a lot of progress in the field.  Their activities included providing fishermen oars, running a summer camp for children in Fukushima, and rebuilding community houses.  We'd like to thank you once again for your generosity in donating to the Tsunami Relief Fund that is supporting our partners to do incredible work in Tohoku.

Here are some of the activities our partners accomplished over the summer:
Peace Winds America
Peace Winds is restoring livelihoods and accelerating economic recovery by supporting fishing cooperatives and their members.  In 2012, Peace Winds and cooperatives in Minami-Sanriku are working to support the seasonal needs of fishermen.  Most recently, Peace Winds and the cooperative leaders developed a plan to enable abalone and sea urchin fishermen to return to work. Peace Winds and the cooperatives are targeting fishing equipment support to 500 Minami-Sanriku abalone and sea urchin fishermen.  To support Peace Winds’ activities, GlobalGiving awarded them an additional $150,000 to provide fishing sheds to families in Minami-Sanriku.

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan)
AAR Japan has been working in Tohoku area to support the disabled, rebuild communities, and provide medical services.  Recently, GlobalGiving funded AAR with a grant of $500,000 to support these activities in the nuclear-affected area of Fukushima as well. In Fukushima, AAR Japan runs activities such as organizing community events at temporary housing complexes for young and old to get together and overcome isolation, preparing contamination-free playgrounds for children, and reconstructing social welfare facilities for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly.  To learn more about their project in Fukushima, please click here

Safecast is a global project working to empower people with data, primarily by mapping radiation levels and building a sensor network, enabling people to both contribute and freely use the data collected. After the 3/11 earthquake and resulting nuclear situation at Fukushima Daiichi it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available. Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japan.  They installed 3 million data points so far, and planning on installing more.  Safecast received an additional grant of $100,000 to help them scale the production of radiation monitoring devices.

ETIC is training and matching 200 young aspiring entrepreneurs (fellows) with 100 social business leaders that are heading reconstruction efforts to rebuild Tohoku through economic empowerment in three years (from Jun 2011 to Mar 2014). ETIC recently summarized fellows’ activities into a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q643Ls1Ti40&feature=youtu.be.  GlobalGiving is continuing to support these young entrepreneurs for the next two years with an additional $500,000 from the fund.

If you would like to read additional updates, please visit our Japan Relief and Recovery updates page. Thank you so much for your support and your continued interest!

Peace Winds - with a fisherman in Minami-Sanriku
Peace Winds - with a fisherman in Minami-Sanriku
ETIC - Fellows
ETIC - Fellows
Safecast - radiation monitoring device
Safecast - radiation monitoring device
Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634
Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634

We would like to thank you for your continued support; grants are still going strong! Because of donors like you we are excited to announce the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund’s recent allocation of $425,000 to 3 projects working to reconstruct and strengthen communities affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  

Here are some project highlights:

Fukushima Kids Executive Committee

Due to the dangers caused by the damaging of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant children in the area are unable to play outside. The Fukushima Kids Executive Committee is working towards restoring playtime by hosting summer camps in Hokkaido for children in the Fukushima area. Getting kids outside during their vacation time and restoring play lightens the children’s spirits in a time of uncertainty. Having opened in 2011, Fukushima Kids’ Summer Camp is excited to open again for the summer of 2012 and is hoping to reach 1,000 kids. Thanks to your generous support Fukushima Kids Executive Committee is receiving $200,000 in funding!


After the events of March 2011 persons living in danger areas were forced to move to temporary housing communities (kasetsu-jutaku). IsraAid continues to work with people of all ages living in temporary housing areas and is launching an exciting new youth leadership project, Rebuilding Lives-Investing in the Future, in Tohoku, Japan. The project aims to empower participants and build leadership, social innovation and social responsibility through a series of trainings, seminars and workshops, which focus on areas such as, leadership training, social program structuring and mentoring. We are excited to announce that IsraAid is receiving $100,000 in funding!

Telecom for Basic Human Needs 

During times of disaster radio often becomes an integral communication tool. Radio stations provide vital information to communities and lessen feelings of isolation. Though reconstruction of Japan’s devastated areas is under way the support and information radio provides is still valued in many communities. Having seen the effectiveness of radio stations and the important role they play in the recovery and rebuilding process of communities, Telecom for Basic Human Needs is working to turn disaster stations into permanent community-based radio stations. Thanks to your support Telecom for Basic Human Needs is receiving $125,000 in funding!


If you would like to read additional updates, please visit our Japan Relief and Recovery updates page. Thank you so much for your support and your continued interest!

Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634
Fukushima Kids-https://www.globalgiving.org/10634
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Telecom for BHN-http://www.globalgiving.org/10457
Mari meets residents in the temporary housing
Mari meets residents in the temporary housing

During the first week of April, GlobalGiving’s president and co-founder Mari Kuraishi and director of programs, Britt Lake, visited the people and organizations that were supported by your donations to GlobalGiving’s Japan Relief and Recovery Fund.  Below is Mari’s account of the time they spent in the Tohoku region.


As I sat in the train back to Tokyo thinking about the week I had just spent visiting GlobalGiving partners in the Tohoku region, three things stuck with me:

  1. The tsunami damage stretched for hundreds of miles up the Japanese coast north of Ibaragi prefecture all the way up to Iwate. For most of the trip we drove a car up the coast roads; as we would round a bend high above the coast, the road would then descend into a low lying flat area--and there would be the tell-tale signs of a vanished town: concrete house foundations. Sometimes we’d see ten or twenty foundations; sometimes they would stretch far into the horizon. Town after town after town, all low-lying communities were gone.
  2. People are rebuilding.  This rebuilding is almost always commercial structures – often gas stations, convenience stores, and pachinko parlors. In some instances entire factories have been rebuilt – a pulp factory in Ishinomaki was one of the most visible examples. The debris is all neatly piled and sorted, but it looms over the damaged areas in piles that are sometimes several stories high, clearly with no place to go. Residential housing, on the other hand, is in limbo. Many multi-story houses remain standing with their first floors gutted by the tsunami, but people still live on the intact second floors.  Other homes remain abandoned. In many areas the government has not given permission for residents to rebuild.  The lack of explicit permission to build does not yet amount to an outright ban, and no compensatory payments have been issued for people whose homes and business are in what will likely become no-build areas. 
  3. Many people are still living in temporary housing compounds.  These temporary homes are built from containers and are about 300+ square feet per household.  They are generally located far uphill and away from the coast, so people are now living quite far from where their homes were originally located.  The temporary housing placements were determined through a lottery system, so communities and neighbors are split up and are often located far from one another. People are making do by buying cars and driving to where their jobs, schools, or family are located. But for those who do not drive, the temporary housing compounds are a lonely place – far from anything familiar, and filled with people they have never met before the disaster.

We visited over almost a dozen organizations in towns and cities across Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.  Along the way, we delivered origami cranes and messages of hope from GlobalGiving donors like you. (Click to see how how the messages were created and then delivered.) We left every visit amazed at how people were beginning to pull their lives back together, but also daunted at the monumental tasks still left ahead.

We visited one temporary housing complex dedicated to families with special needs where a woman kindly invited us into her home. It was immaculate, but tiny.  The 300+ sq ft per-household size really hadn't hit me until we followed her in and found ourselves immediately in the main room.  It was a combination kitchen, living room, and bedroom, where her immobilized son was on the heated carpeted floor that she explained was essential to his avoiding joint pains that would cause him to cry out. She explained that the size was fine with just the two of them – it got a little crowded when her husband came home once every 3 months.  He works as a fisherman in the far south of Kyushu.  Despite the size and the location, she said was happy to be in the housing complex.  Because every household in the compound had a family member with special needs, they had actually known each other before the disaster through various service centers in the area, so they had a support network within the compound – something most other people didn’t have in their temporary housing.  She hoped the families could all stay together once more permanent housing was built.

In a temporary shopping center much further north, we went to a lunch pot in a food mall and, because Britt is vegetarian, got treated to a beautiful set course of , or Buddhist cuisine. It was the last thing I expected in a food mall, but there it was. The chef had owned a highly rated restaurant in the city of Otsuchi before the disaster that was destroyed in the tsunami. He had scraped together enough money to pay for some basic cooking equipment and set himself up in a temporary shopping center and he was beginning to make a living by cooking basic lunch foods for all the workers who had nowhere else to go.  He had been thrilled to show off his skills by cooking this special lunch for us.

At site after site, we came across young men and women who had deferred graduate school abroad, given up promising corporate careers at major multinational companies, or had given up jobs abroad in South Sudan, Paraguay, or Uganda to help rebuild their country.  Some had grown up in Tohoku, but others came north with no other desire than to serve. Japan is by-and-large a society with very rigid expectations and sense of hierarchy.  If you are successful, you attend one of a handful of good schools, then subsequently join the federal civil service, become a doctor or lawyer, or join a major multinational company. And when you do follow that path, there is a pretty long path of seniority to tread.  The people who were supporting and leading non-profits or social enterprises, on the other hand, were all getting to make substantive decisions about what made sense, what provided the highest value, and long term benefit to the communities where they lived.  Even more, they all seemed happy and fulfilled, if not somewhat exhausted. It was by far the most vibrant group of young Japanese people I have come across ever.

That gave me hope. Or, as a bumper sticker in Ishinomaki, said, "”It's tough to translate, as it's local dialect, but its spirit is closest to: "Don't mess with us, tsunami!"


If you’d like to Mari and Britt’s accounts of each specific project they visited, you can read their postcards from the field on our Japan Updates page.

A building near Ishinomaki
A building near Ishinomaki
A fisherman helped by JEN
A fisherman helped by JEN's program
One of the temporary fish markets
One of the temporary fish markets
A message from a GlobalGiving donor for Japan
A message from a GlobalGiving donor for Japan

At the one year anniversary of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, we asked you, the GlobalGiving community, to write messages of encouragement that Mari, our President and I would hand-deliver to the people of Japan.  We collected more than 135 messages on Facebook and via text message, and last week our staff came together to fold origami cranes, to translate your notes into Japanese, and to assemble cards for people affected by the tragedy. (See some beautiful photos of the messages here.) 

Yesterday, after 14 hours of flying, Mari and I arrived in Tokyo ready for a busy trip to visit our partners on the ground.  Over the next two weeks, we will be meeting with the organizations and people who you have helped support with your donations to ensure that your dollars are having maximum impact on the people and communities affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

We are excited to report that we will be visiting almost every project that received support through the GlobalGiving Japan Relief and Recovery Fund.  We’re committed to keeping you informed of how your money has been spent, so a full list of the grants that were given in the past year is below:


Total Funds Disbursed

We’re also excited to tell you about three new grants that were just recently approved:

1) The International Medical Crises Response Alliance (IMCRA) will receive a grant of $100,000 to support direct onsite medical operations in Tohoku. IMCRA currently provides medical resource information, seminars, clinical toolkits and web-based operational platforms to clinicians, administrators, and populations impacted by the earthquake, tsunami and radiation disasters of March 11, particularly in the areas of radiation biology, dentistry in disrupted environment, geriatrics, and infectious disease prophylaxis.

2) Peace Winds received $149,932 to help fishing communities in Minamisanriku. Miyagi Prefecture.  This grant will allow them to accelerate economic recovery and create jobs through support to Minamisanriku’s two Fishing Cooperatives and their 800 members.

3) Project YUI was approved for $100,000 to support the establishment of daycare centers for children in temporary shelters including hiring local nurses and mothers as daycare center staff;  creating a “mom's community" for the mothers living in the same complex; and expansion to up to 15 sites by 2013.

And that’s not all – generous donors like yourself have donated an additional $2.3 million in the last four months!  We will continue to disburse those gifts to Japanese organizations working on long-term recovery over the next few months.  We have a busy few weeks ahead of us, but we feel privileged to be able to see first-hand the great work that you’re helping to make a reality and we'll continue to report back to you. 

Thank you again for your support and we invite you to leave a comment on the project wall if you have questions you'd like for us to ask while we are in Japan.

Warm wishes,
Britt and the GlobalGiving team

Restoring livelihoods in Japan by Peace Winds
Restoring livelihoods in Japan by Peace Winds

This is a personal message from Mari Kuraishi, President and Co-Founder of GlobalGiving. Mari, a Japanese national, is preparing to visit Japan following the 1-year anniversary of the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami.

To the generous donors of GlobalGiving's Japan Relief Fund,

As you probably know, today is the one-year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. For the last several weeks my colleauges and I have been planning our trip to Japan to visit our project partners in the Tohoku area. Planning for the trip has made us all realize just how much has been accomplished in the recovery efforts since March 11, 2011, and also how much remains to be done. 

As we planned the logistics of our trip, I blithely expected we would be able to get to most places by train, because that's usually a pretty good assumption to make in Japan. But not this time. I assumed that hotels, restaurants, and other services would be operating anywhere we planned to be – but that’s not the case. It took many phone calls to uncover the fact that some trains still aren't even operating and lots of business are still closed in the Tohuku area, and that's when it hit home for me.

A year feels like a long time when you think of all the things accomplished since the great Tohoku/Kanto earthquake and tsunami. But a year is not enough for individual businesses to be rebuilt, for people's lives to be brought back to normal, or even for plants to grow back. 

I'll be going back to Japan in two weeks, both to visit my home and to thank all the amazing Japanese leaders who are still hard at work putting their communities and their country back together again. I’ll be meeting with people like Hatakeyama-san, a fisherman in Kesennuma who used your donations to buy ropes and build rafts to start oyster farming in his area. I'll be speaking with Japanese women from the civil sector about what it means to be Japanese, a woman, and a leader at this make-or-break time in the course of Japanese history. Finally, I’ll be seeing the cherry blossoms – symbols of hope and renewal – as they bloom again in Japan one year after the devastation. 

Each and every one of you has helped in some way. As I meet face-to-face with the people affected by the earthquake, I would be humbled to hand-deliver your messages of support. Will you please share a message of encouragement that I can deliver on your behalf? What questions would you like me to ask of the people who you have helped support? Please share your comments and questions on our Facebook post; I’ll read them, share them with the people I meet, and then I'll send an update when I return from my trip. 

Send a message to Japan

I'd also like to ask you to consider giving again on the 1st anniversary of the disaster in order to help more people like Hatakeyama-san re-establish their livelihoods. We are still actively disbursing your donations to local partners who are helping with long-term rebuilding efforts. 

There’s still a long road ahead for Japan, but we thank you for standing with the Japanese people in hope for renewal and recovery. I look forward to sending another update about your funds after I arrive in Japan. 



Mari Kuraishi, President and Founder, GlobalGiving
Mari Kuraishi, President and Founder, GlobalGiving

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Organization Information


Location: Washington, D.C. - USA
Website: http://www.globalgiving.org
Project Leader:
Britt Lake
Washington, DC United States
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