Where the Need is Greatest
For almost a week now, I have pondered what I can do to help the people of Japan. I am sitting here in the relative comfort of Iraq — yes, I realize how strange that sounds — and can watch the footage of the massive devastation on the island, see the anguish in peoples eyes, and understand the barren existence of having lost everything. It is a time in Japan to turn to each other, to turn to family, to turn to friends, in order to get through the losses and the misery. And yes, it is rather surreal indeed, to be an American in Iraq worrying about Japan.
As some of you know, I work with some folks who are stationed in Japan. They are assigned to a based that is up on the north end of the island. Their unit, the friends, are all OK. They have fared well. But still, the area near their base, especially just to the south and along the coast, has been devastated. Less than a week after the earthquake and tsunami, they are going out into the area to see how they can help, to see what they can offer, to be good neighbors and partners and to offer all that they can.
But what to do? I know I am not along in wanting to do something, but not knowing what. I do know that, about as soon as it happened, up popped the scam emails probably faster than actual relief organizations could update their own websites. But still, electronic transfers to well established groups certainly appear the best way to go — well organized, established groups with robust capabilities and a knowledge on how to make a difference at times like this, in places like this, under conditions like this.
1. Give to the Red Cross. If you want my opinion, give to them without strings attached, for them to use where the need is greatest. That is, after all, a very common theme with IBOL — where the need is greatest. Maybe you can help Japan some, but maybe you’ll also help Haiti, or Egypt, or any of the number of other places where Red Cross / Red Crescent are active in helping others who are in need. Why is Red Cross at the top of the list — yep, that’s right, my dad was a lifelong volunteer with the Red Cross.
2. Give to Doctors Without Borders. I can’t think of an Army adventure i have been on, where I have not run into Médecins Sans Frontières, as they are officially known around the world. Good, good people, who already have several teams on the ground in Northern Japan.
But there’s one more thing. I have a bridge into Japan, to the unit. If you want to help out, let me know — leave a comment here, or send to me an email. If you’re in a position to put together a small box of stuff to send, that’d be awesome — we can talk about it more in email. Supporting others like the Red Cross and MSF make far more sense, but if you want to also help by sending something, well, we can do that, too.
And as always, I want to extend my thanks to all of you. I have met some truly great people through IBOL, and we sure wouldn’t be having this conversation were it not for the great people behind IBOL itself.