Volunteering Isn't Always the Right Way to Help

Written by  March 17, 2011

Following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit northeast Japan on March 11, 2011, which was followed by a devastating tsunami that could end up claiming more than 10,000 lives, the thought on many people's minds is: how can I help?

For some of us, we don't want to just donate some money or share a link with our friends. We want to get out there and help pull people out of rubble, build shelters or deliver medical supplies. The last thing we want to do is sit idly by.

Unfortunately, that's just not what the country needs right now. There are emergency response teams, trained specialists and first responders, government officials, non-profit groups, even military personnel, who are already doing what they can to help the shattered country. In fact, the last thing Japan needs is to handle an influx of well-intentioned volunteers without the technical skills needed right now.

For the rest of us, there are other ways to help. They may not feel like a whole lot, but you'll be providing exactly what's needed right now. Check out these lists of great ways to help, including some interesting ways to donate via iTunes, buying virtual crops and buying goods on eBay to support Hands On Tokyo.

  1. Hands On Tokyo
  2. GOOD
  3. Mashable
  4. Yahoo! News

In the meantime, you can read this great blog post from NYTimes columnist Nicholas Kristof about why Japan deserves our sympathy and our admiration.

Of course, if you're interested in learning more about the kind of people and organizations that are in demand in these kinds of situations - natural disasters, among others - you can read up on some of the work being done in Haiti:

First on the Ground in Haiti
Picking Up the Pieces in Haiti

Did we miss anything? Sound off in the comments section to let us know!

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Zalina Alvi

Zalina grew up in Toronto and began her career in journalism at the York University campus newspaper. Before joining Verge in 2010, she worked for a documentary festival, a non-profit organization and various magazines and newspapers. Zalina has had some eclectic travel experiences, including reporting for a newspaper on the island of Molokai in Hawaii.

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