It is gut wrenching for me to write this notice about our Japanese friends and their incredible disaster with the earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear blowout. Many of you have expressed concerns over the situation and how best to respond.
Jim Leamy, Chair of Disaster Aid Canada sent the following letter to the Japanese Consulate in Vancouver BC. Their reply follows his letter.
I am the chairman of Disaster Aid Canada, a Rotary Club charity that supplies relief supplies to areas struck by natural disasters. We supply a family survival kit consisting of a UN approved compartmented tent capable of housing 10 people and other survival gear. We are also prepared to send support personnel trained to assist local people in the setting up and distribution of this equipment. Before we send anything we need your guidance as to whether this type of assistance is what you want from us at this time.
Dear James Leamy
I have been asked by Consul Takahashi to respond to your kind expression of condolences for the victims of the disaster in Japan and your offer to help on behalf of Disaster Aid Canada, a Rotary Club charity.
So far, organizational assistance from abroad for the rescue effort is being co-ordinated at a high government to government level. The Consulate in Vancouver is not set up to facilitate the assistance of such groups as Disaster Aid Canada.
The Consulate however, will keep your information on file, and contact you if we become aware of any change. Thank you again for your offer of assistance.
for the Consulate General of Japan, Vancouver
A similar response was received by our Australian and British Disaster Aid Offices. More initiatives have been undertaken since then involving correspondence between influential Rotarians both in Japan and North America.
We have over 1000 boxes in our warehouse in China that could start to arrive there within 72 hours but we now require their request to provide help to them on behalf of Rotarians all across Canada. These are boxes that are not yet sponsored or paid for so donations towards them would be appreciated, but we cannot at this time guarantee that they will indeed go to Japan unless requested or authorized. You can be assured however that they will be used to provide aid to disaster victims sometime in the near future and we will appreciate all funding donated at this time.
We understand that the USA and Canadian Governments have advised all their citizens in Japan to leave Tokyo now. Our Canadian Government's Disaster Response Team that deployed to Japan on Monday was pulled out on Wednesday (48 hours), due to the nuclear disaster potential. How can we ask our volunteer DART teams to go in where the government professionals are not allowed to go due to the potential danger to their lives and the inappropriateness of their skills to deal with the kind of situation the Japanese are facing?
Japan is the most disaster prepared country on earth. Displaced victims are now in shelters provided by their government, and their immediate need is apparently not for tents. Consequently we must wait for their request to help them. We cannot rush in aid that may never be deployed or used and we cannot ourselves fall victim to media hype just for the sake of a photo op.
Thank you all for your concerns and financial support at this time of great need worldwide.
Don Ohlgren - Executive Director