Direct Relief Japan Response: Expanded effort targets hardest hit areas, most vulnerable people

$1 million in grants awarded to five Japanese groups

Santa Barbara, CA and Washington, D.C.—The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and Direct Relief International today announced an additional $1 million in grants to five Japanese nonprofit groups coordinating relief efforts and providing services for the most vulnerable people affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

$1 million in cash from the JACL-Direct Relief Japan Relief and Recovery Fund will be used to support the efforts of local Japanese groups providing urgently needed assistance for the elderly and disabled, as well as coordinating relief efforts in affected districts.

The emergency initiatives were approved following intensive review and consultations last week in Japan among the Japanese groups' leaders, JACL National Executive Director and CEO Floyd Mori, Direct Relief’s Director of International Programs Brett Williams, and faculty of Meiji Gakuin University. The selected projects enable Japanese groups to continue and expand the provision of essential emergency response services in their communities and include expanded coordination among private and volunteer relief efforts with local governments through Disaster Volunteer Centers, which serve as the hub of all relief activities in each district.

“Our goal is to ensure that resources that have been so generously donated directly assist the people in Japan who have suffered enormously in this tragedy,” JACL’s Mori said. “These initiatives with excellent Japanese organizations working both intensely and thoughtfully do just that.”

In recognition of the many urgent needs of the affected people and the various groups seeking to help, JACL and Direct Relief are providing funding to the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) to support its central role as the coordinating body for groups responding to the disaster. “Our deep experience responding to emergencies has taught us that a well-coordinated response is the best way to reduce waste and duplication that often occurs in the chaotic aftermath of a disaster,” said Direct Relief’s Williams. “We have teamed up with JANIC to ensure that the NGOs working in the affected areas can be as productive as possible.”

The additional projects and organizations being funded were selected for their efforts to assist vulnerable people – such as the elderly who are home-bound in difficult-to-reach areas – as well as their critically important work in coordinating private relief efforts with local government agencies responsible for, but challenged by the enormity of, overall relief and recovery efforts within their jurisdictions.

The other organizations, and their specific respective efforts, being supported by the JACL-Direct Relief funding announced today are: Service for Health in Asian and African Regions (SHARE), Shanti Volunteer Association, Shapla Neer,and Japanese International Volunteer Center.

The five initiatives announced today will draw down on an additional $1 million from the Relief and Recovery Fund, from which $400,000 was disbursed two weeks ago to the Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan).

The total of $1.4 million in cash disbursements represents 56% of the total funds received since the JACL-Direct Relief joint effort was formed last month. A central focus of the JACL-Direct Relief effort is to support Japanese community groups assisting the people most vulnerable people affected by the emergency.

Direct Relief and JACL will continue to work with and provide financial and technical assistance to local groups providing relief services in Japan.

Anyone wishing to donate to contribute in this manner may visit the Direct Relief International website at www.DirectRelief.org and click on the link provided to donate to the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund.

About Direct Relief International

Direct Relief International is California’s largest medical relief organization, active in all 50 states and 70 countries. It works with more than 1,000 health clinics across the U.S. to assist in emergencies and an ongoing basis, providing them with free medications for people in need. Direct Relief is among the largest medical suppliers to Haiti in response to the 2010 earthquake.