Following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, Japan is being rocked by an economic disaster. Its stock market has plunged 17 percent since trading first opened Monday morning.
The death toll is now well above 6,000 people, with swarms of others still missing. For those lucky enough to survive, food and adequate shelter are quickly running thin.
While donations are coming in, they’re not to the level you'd think. Relief workers say the lack of generosity may have something to do with our poor economy. However, it could also be the notion that Japan is a wealthy nation that doesn't need our support.
"The amount of destruction is phenomenal. It is historic, but there has definitely been a different dynamic from the support that came for Haiti, versus the support that came for Japan,” Feed The Hungry Executive Director Stefan Radelich said.
So much so that South Bend-based Feed The Hungry received 85 percent more in donations after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti back in January 2010.
Even so the organization has collected $20,000 in Japanese relief effort thanks to local churches and families. Eight cents is all is costs to purchase a 17 ounce bottle of water, so those donations will go a long way.
However, they may not go far enough to handle the swarms of Japanese citizens without adequate housing, forced to live in temporary shelters.
Recovery workers have rescued 15,000 people, another 500,000 have been evacuated, and each one is now without their home.
Millions of others have flocked to grocery stores to stock-up on essentials fearing nuclear contamination. Many stores have run dry.
"Even though there's a great economy and great middle class in Japan, the fact remains that the people are hurting. Right now the scope of this disaster is so big that the country needs help from everywhere,” Radelich added.
The United States faced a similar challenge after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Japan and its citizens donated nearly 15 million to the Katrina clean-up, now relief workers say its America’s turn to give back.
It can take two to three weeks to ship food to Japan. So groups like Feed The Hungry are wiring money in the meantime, to get food distributed right away. Once the immediate need tapers off, the organization will begin to ship things out once again.
Celebrities are also starting to vocalize the need to donate. Lady Gaga is now promoting red and white wristbands that say "We pray for Japan."
If you’d like to be more discrete, you can text the word, REDCROSS to the number 90999 for a $10 donation. And to give money to Feed The Hungry, just click on the Big Red Bar.