Monday, March 12, 2012

Japan: One Year after the Earthquake and Tsunami

One year following Japan’s tragic earthquake and Pacific tsunami, the country is firmly on the path to recovery.

“Donations to the American Red Cross have helped hundreds of thousands of disaster survivors and are serving a critical role in recovery plans,” said President and CEO Gail McGovern. “Whether it’s offering emotional support to someone struggling with trauma, building much needed healthcare facilities, or providing appliances to a family moving into a temporary home, the Red Cross is helping the Japanese people look to the future.”Donations to the American Red Cross have helped the Japanese Red Cross:

  • Provide more than 316,000 survivors with necessary appliances for their temporary housing, including refrigerators, washing machines and rice cookers.
  • Support construction of four temporary hospitals, one permanent hospital and a community health clinic.
  • Rebuild a Red Cross nursing school that will train specialists in disaster medical care
  • Provide more than 87,000 people with health services through Japanese Red Cross mobile teams and temporary clinics.
  • Comfort 14,000 people by counselors trained to deal with disaster-related trauma.
  • Provide transportation and vaccinations for the elderly and educational support, temporary school gyms and play areas for children.
  • Improve the disaster response capacity of the Japanese Red Cross, so critical to saving lives.
"Our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has generously donated funds through the American Red Cross and national societies in many other countries,” said Tadateru Konoe, president of the Japanese Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross. “Through your support we have been able to help survivors regain their resilience and also increase our preparedness to face up to potential future disasters."

The American Red was one of the largest private, international contributors to the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami response, raising more than $312 million. One year later, virtually all of the funds have been spent. Because of these donations, the Japanese Red Cross was able to bring emergency comfort to those living in shelters and later able to provide the supplies and services needed to help them get back on their feet.

Japan: One Year Later (Video)

In the last decade, Japan’s Ministry of Education has responded to market imperatives and a need for managers with specialized skills by increasing the number of graduate programs. But Japan's new professional and graduate programs have experienced chronic under-enrollment -- basically, no one is showing up to class. Now the Ministry of Education is playing catch-up to market these educational programs to a very truant bunch of students.

It is not hard to determine why Japan’s graduate classrooms sit empty. For one thing, the promise that graduate programs offer does little to remove the stigma associated with continuing education courses. Traditional definitions of success lead many professionals to fear that they will be perceived as less competent if they pursue education after they have entered a professional career. In the past, Japanese companies have also based career advancement on seniority. An extra one or two years in school has often meant falling behind less educated counterparts who move faster up the corporate ranks.

As Japan approaches the first anniversary of the crisis that transformed the nation, global attention will undoubtedly focus on the progress that the country has made in resurrecting its physical infrastructure. Restoring homes, roads, hospitals and schools, and mitigating the damage of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl certainly deserve our attention and reflection. Still, it is important to remember that solving the social and economic problems that Japan faced before the crisis are just as critical.

The unique skills that graduate programs offer will play a vital roll in managing Japan's long-term recovery. If students and professionals continue to avoid higher education, Japan will find itself ill-equipped to maintain its revival. Considering how many people have been displaced and how much there is yet to be rebuilt, it may be worthwhile for the Ministry of Education to encourage distance learning or online graduate programs. Because online schools are more cost-efficient, offer the ability to reach a larger audience across vast distances, and provide the opportunity to study while working full-time -- thereby avoiding the stigma of a late entry into the workforce -- they may be the perfect tool in ensuring that once Japan's physical recovery is complete, the nation will have an educated workforce capable of leading an economic recovery.

To get involved in Japan's recovery, donate to:
American Red Cross presents Japan One Year Later Japan One Year Later

This video was sent in to the American Red Cross Central Valley Region and asked to be shared with you our loyal readers.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Red Cross Month 2012 - Presidential Proclamation



After more than 130 years of providing humanitarian relief at home and abroad, the American Red Cross remains a reflection of the compassion and generosity central to our national identity. At moments of profound need, the actions of men and women across our country reflect our noblest ideals of service -- from search-and-rescue teams that brave disaster zones to ordinary citizens who deliver not only lifesaving care and supplies, but also hope for a brighter tomorrow. During American Red Cross Month, we pay tribute to all those whose dedication to relieving human suffering illuminates even our darkest hours.

A visionary humanitarian and unyielding advocate for those in need, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881 after many years of tending to soldiers and families injured in war's wake. In the generations that followed, the American Red Cross served as a force for peace and recovery during times of crisis. Presidents of the United States have called upon the American Red Cross time and again, beginning when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Red Cross Week during the First World War, and continuing into the 21st century.

Today, emergency response organizations like the American Red Cross continue to play a vital role in responding to disasters that cast countless lives and communities into harm's way. When devastating storms struck cities spanning the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard this past year, the American Red Cross and other relief organizations were instrumental partners in preparedness, response, and recovery. And when a devastating earthquake shook Japan's Pacific coast, they answered by extending support to the people of Japan and standing with them as they rebuild.

We are reminded in times like these that the strength of our humanitarian response and the measure of our resilience are drawn not only from the committed action of relief organizations, but also from individuals who step forward, volunteer, or give what they can to help their neighbors in need. With generous spirits and can-do attitudes, Americans from every corner of our country have come together again and again to show the true character of our Nation. As we celebrate American Red Cross Month, let us resolve to preserve and renew that humanitarian impulse to save, to serve, and to build, and carry it forward in the year to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America and Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2012 as American Red Cross Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities, and by supporting the work of service and relief organizations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.