Volunteer organisations sometimes have a bad reputation for charging hefty fees to volunteers and then engaging them in work that doesn’t really need to be done. The following article highlights one company which is offering tours to tsunami affected areas in northeastern Japan at a cost of almost 60,000 yen. I don’t know the company or the work they’re doing so I have no idea if it’s doing any good I just wanted to point out some common misconceptions it brings up and let you know a bit more about the organisation I’m working with.
The article is right in at least one respect, as a general rule “unskilled volunteers, although well-meaning, are [usually] better off staying at home” unless they have a specific program they are going to join. Volunteers do need “managing and feeding” and that’s what I’m doing! By setting up meaningful programs in response to genuine requests from the local community even unskilled volunteers can have a positive impact in this disaster zone.
One example of how useful this unskilled labour is can be found in our gutting program. Most houses here are built by skilled carpenters and the family will often wait for the original carpenter before starting repairs. These highly skilled people are now obviously in high demand. We are working with families and carpenters to start by removing drywall and floorboards, shovel mud out from the crawl space underneath and sanitise with wonder-product EM (more to come later). Rather than taking work away from the carpenters this actually frees them up to fit in more of the skilled work they are so respected for.
Any one can crawl under someone’s house, head torch ready, and crawl back out again clutching bags of mud and debris. Not everyone wants to but that’s the beauty of All Hands, plenty of the volunteers are more than happy to! Ecstatic in fact. Quote of the night from this evening’s meeting: “If your idea of heaven is working in a very small hole with a man with a beard then this is the job for you”.