An A-Z of helping out

by Rob Gilhooly

Many foreign residents in Japan with a genuine desire to take part in volunteer activities probably stumble at the same hurdle: where to find out what options are available. “The Volunteering Directory,” compiled and published by the nonprofit organization Foreign Executive Women, holds the answer.

First published in 1995, the directory is the only English-language guide to nonprofit volunteer organizations in Japan, listing more than 70 groups in and around Tokyo, including ones involved in animal rights, crisis support, refugees and social welfare activities. It also gives detailed information about each organization, including ongoing projects and contact details.

“Our hope is to get more foreigners involved in volunteering in Japan,” said FEW official Anne Makepeace. “We published the directory because so many friends expressed a desire to do volunteer work but had difficulty finding groups that needed or were willing to have non-Japanese speakers along.” Yet, Makepeace said many groups do need foreign-language speakers, which may account for the increased number listed in the latest edition of the directory, due out in September.