March 17, 2011
Japan: World Vision Stays Out of Radiation Zones
World Vision workers in Japan are doing what they can to help out in the wake of the tragedy while staying clear of the radiation zones, says a spokesperson for the Christian humanitarian organization.
World Vision has had a Japan office since the late 1980s, but it had never been intended for something like this.
"We had a presence, we had staff in Japan when this disaster hit," says Amy Parodi, a media relations representative for World Vision. "Because Japan is a developed country, very high-functioning, quite wealthy, the office there is actually a lot more similar to our US office. It's more focused on fundraising to fund programs that we do in developing countries."
Fortunately, Parodi says, one of their top relief workers, Kenjiro Ban, lives in Tokyo.
"He's done relief responses in Sudan, in Kenya, in Indonesia, in Haiti," Parodi says. "This is what he does. He's leading the effort now in his own country, which I'm sure is somewhat of a shock for him."
World Vision's assessment team has been surveying the earthquake areas this week. Relief workers are working with the government and taking care to keep clear of the danger zones for radiation.
"Right now World Vision has staff that sere serving the people who have been evacuated," Parodi says. "Our expertise is not in nuclear response...we're trying to figure out how many people to bring in, what level of risk to take, and trying to make sure we make really informed decisions so that we keep our staff safe as well."
In this and other matters, World Vision is taking a lot of cues from the Japanese government.
"They know what they're doing, they're very organized, and really nobody in the world is as prepared to respond to an earthquake and a tsunami as Japan," Parodi says, "Which really goes to illustrate how devastating this disaster was, because it couldn't have hit a more prepared country."
Because of this, some have been saying that people wanting to donate shouldn't specify their funds for Japan so that aid organizations are able to make use of any monetary surplus. Parodi suspects that World Vision's budget for Japan will not be as large as that for, say, Haiti; on that other hand, she says, that's no reason not to give.
"I think we're going to find that the need isn't as high," Parodi says, "It doesn't mean the need isn't there."
The key to maximizing your contribution, she says, is to make sure the receiving entity has as much flexibility to utilize it as possible.
"That's certainly up to people's own giving preferences, but really for groups like World Vision, Red Cross, any of the other organizations that have work in many countries and do a lot of different kinds of work, The more choice you can give the organization to decide what's best, the easier it makes the work."
World Vision is accepting donations through WorldVision.org. You can also text "4japan" to 20222 to donate $10 through a cell phone bill.
"It's such an opportunity for us to show Christ's love through our work," Parodi says. "People know, when they see our name, when they see the orange logo, they know that World Vision is Christian. When they see that we're serving, they know that that's coming in the name of Christ."