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Not just Japan

Today, I want to talk about charity.
I haven't mentioned Japan on the blog yet, because I wasn't really sure how to talk about it. The disaster has made me think a lot about various things, and it's only now that I feel I can write about it. Also, I don't want anyone to think I don't care. In fact, scratch that, I don't really care if you want to think that. I know I care, and I've donated to the relief effort, so think what you want.

I donated to the Red Cross Japan disaster relief fund, however now after having read various articles on the internet I regret doing this. Why? Japan is a country with a very stong economy, and for the most part, they can probably afford the majority of the relief work themselves. Even if they do need charity relief, currently, it appears that most charities aren't really sure of what they'll be putting the money donated towards.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't donate. Just do it slightly differently. Instead of donating to a specific disaster relief fund for Japan (or any other disaster actually), donate to the charity/NGO directly, allowing your donations to be used wherever they are most needed. If you donate to a specific fund, the money gets stuck there. Money donated specifically for Japan, if it isn't used there immediately, cannot be used to help the victims of any other disaster which may occur in the coming weeks/months. Donating money "generally" does not mean it definitely won't be used to help Japan.

You may have noticed that I've created a little banner/button and put it in my sidebar. This originally linked to the British Red Cross Japan fund page, but now I've changed it so it links to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders.) MSF never asks for money for one particular disaster, so that none of their funding is ever "locked up" and not available for use when it is most needed. MSF was able to mobilise extremely quickly after the Haiti earthquake last year because they had enough funds available for use anywhere.*
(* I read this information on a blog somewhere, but I can't find it again now. So sorry for the slight plagiarism, but I feel in this case it's hardly an issue.)

So please, donate what you can, but remember that Japan is not the only place where relief work is needed right now. At any one time aid organisations are helping in dozens of countries across the world. Just because places are not in the news doesn't mean they don't need help. (I'm not saying don't donate to the Red Cross/any other organisation asking for funds for Japan, I'm saying donate generally, and make sure you selct the option for your donation to be used anywhere it is needed.)

You may not have donated anything yet, for exactly the reasons I have mentioned above. Japan probably doesn't need huge amounts of help, and is more likely to get most of it from the governments of other countries than from anywhere else. However, this isn't an excuse to avoid the issue of charity altogether. As I said, there are dozens of countries across the world where help is needed on a daily basis. Crises such as drought and food shortages in parts of Africa, to name but one example, have been going on for so many years that they are seemingly no longer news worthy. But the suffering of other human beings is not something that we should be able to apply an "out of sight, out of mind" rule to. If you haven't donated anything to charity this year, I think you should take a good, hard look at yourself. I know it's difficult to think about the amount of suffering in the world, it makes everyone feel sad and brings up uncomfortable questions as to how we in the developed world can allow such things to happen whilst we lead selfish and materialistic lives. However, this is a fact of life, and something everyone should think about. If we ignore the issues, the situation will never improve, and millions of people will continue to suffer and die unnecessarily. (Thinking about this has made me question my role as a "fashion blogger", and the materialism involved, but that's something for another time.)

I don't believe that anyone reading my blog is so destitute that they can't afford to donate 5, 10 or even 50 pounds to help other people. Instead of going on a Primark shopping spree for things you don't really need this weekend, donate the money instead to help people who really need it,
be it the people of Japan, or someone dying in a tiny village in a place you've never even heard of.

Thank you for reading.

12 comments

  1. I've read this from all over too and it made me reconsider changing my own links to the Red Cross too. But I didn't...only because I figured that people can make their own decisions and also because I read on the website that any surplus for the Red Cross goes to other humanitarian disasters worldwide. Unsure what to think really, am I wrong? Also definitely agree that being a first world country, it doesn't need as much help as other countries. Anyway, great post raising awareness over something that is definitely quite confusing!! :)

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  3. Really enlightening post, thanks for writing :) don't question your role as a fashion blogger, as long as you don't let it define who you are, it's a talent that you shouldn't give up! Hope all's well with you :) x

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  4. Whilst I agree that if you're in a position to donate you should do your best to do so, I don't agree with shaming people into giving to charity.

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  5. I wasn't aware of this, so thank you for enlightening me :)
    xx

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  6. @Anonymous whilst I respect your view I feel that with something as important as charity, shaming people into doing something is better than doing nothing. I believe people should be ashamed if they never do anything to help others.

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  7. This was a really good post, and something I have been thinking slightly myself- at least Japan has something of an infrastructure in place to cope, unlike the many other poverty striken countries who are constantly crippled by natural disasters.

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  8. I agree with what you are saying it should be donated to the general charity as those who suffered from the haiti earth quake are still in dire need of help yet each tragedy overshadows the last. However, while your post has just prompted me to donate money to charity, I decided instead to donate money to Amensty International who are currently trying to help the refugees of Libya because while what happened in Japan is horrific and the people there need help it was something that has now ended and hopefully wont happen again for a long time. But the horrors is places where it is thought the hatred and actions of a group of people in power carry on. Those who are vulnerable need to be protected from slavery and torture and mindless murder. I hope that people wont read this and think i dont care about the people in japan or that I think giving money to them is silly because I dont, I buy just buy more than enough from countless charity shops to hope im doing my bit, and this is how I decided to do y bit for a worthy cause. Thanks for motivating me to finally do it Fritha xxxx

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  9. Brilliantly written. I agree to with all of this! I definitley prefer to donate to more general charity, rather than to individual relief efforts. There are problems in so many different places in the world, that giving to more general charities is really the best way.

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  10. you are so right - ive set myself a challenge to donate every friday when i get paid for at least a month x
    http://lolitasfashionideas.blogspot.com/

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  11. Really interesting post. It def has given me something to think about, esp about thinking what the charity actually does with your money before donating rather than just doing it in a blind panic when you see something so horrific on the news and want to help!

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