The American Red Cross today contributed an additional $15 million to the Japanese Red Cross, bringing its investments in the country’s disaster recovery to nearly $260 million.
Less than six months since the earthquake and tsunami struck, about 88 percent of the money donated to the American Red Cross has been transferred to its local partners as they continue to meet the emergency and longer-term recovery needs of families living in evacuation centers and temporary housing. The American Red Cross, for example, is backing more than half of the Japanese Red Cross aid program and has supported the UN’s World Food Programme and International Organization for Migration.
“Significant progress has been made since March 11 – the mood has changed, the conditions have improved and the outlook is hopeful,” said Alex Mahoney, disaster management advisor with the American Red Cross. “Still, it will be many years before some towns really come back to life.”
More than 82,000 families have already received a set of household appliances, including a washing machine, refrigerator, microwave, rice cooker and hot water dispenser, for their prefabricated houses and subsidized apartments. These distributions represent 90 percent of the total appliance packages pledged (90,000) by the Japanese Red Cross.
As of early August, approximately 10,000 people were still living in evacuation centers. In many cases, they turned down housing offers from the government because they do not want to lose the companionship of other people in the centers. This support has particularly helped the elderly in the healing process.
“People still have sadness in their hearts but while they still cry they are now able to laugh as well,” said Takako Inoue, a Red Cross nurse caring for the elderly in an evacuation center.
Since the disaster, the Red Cross has placed caregivers and psychological support teams in evacuation centers and nursing homes to address the mental health issues amongst survivors. The Japanese Red Cross has established two psychological support centers and deployed more then 465 counselors to work with the affected population. As of early August, more than 13,600 people had benefited from this support.
In addition to providing three meals each day and water services for the remaining residents, the Japanese Red Cross also has equipped evacuation centers with privacy partitions, hospital beds for the elderly, play areas for the children, Internet access, televisions, showers and doctors.
“For the families waiting for temporary housing assignments near their children’s school or place of employment, these improvements bring great comfort,” said Mahoney. “For the elderly and ill, they bridge the gap while the debilitated healthcare system is being restored.”
The Japanese Red Cross is significantly augmenting the downed medical facilities, caring for more than 79,000 patients to date from its own hospital and clinics as well as through outreach teams. Its future plans also include building a temporary hospital and permanent nursing school with support from the American Red Cross.
As of August 11, the American Red Cross had raised nearly $296 million for the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami response. As these pledges are fulfilled and other donations are received, the American Red Cross will make additional contributions to the Japanese Red Cross recovery plan.
In addition to these funds, the Japanese Red Cross has said all of the donations collected within Japan will be applied to a cash grant program. To date, the Japanese Red Cross has sent approximately $3.3 billion to local authorities charged with distributing cash grants to the survivors who have lost their homes, loved ones and livelihoods as a result of the tsunami.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.