The Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC) Waseda University


WAVOC 10-point Guidelines for Student Volunteers in Disaster Relief

WAVOC has supported many student volunteers throughout the years. Based on this experience, we would like for you to consider the following guidelines when volunteering in disaster relief:


Article 1: Sign up for volunteer insurance (disaster plan)

Volunteers are wholly responsible for themselves, even when you become sick or face an accident. Volunteer insurance will help you handle unexpected incidents.

Article 2: Do not work around the clock

In disaster areas, volunteers become emotionally worked up due to a sense of mission and overwork. However, becoming ill from fatigue causes burden on the community you are serving. You need to decide when and how long to rest during volunteer activities.

Article 3: In disaster areas, partner with people you can trust

Volunteers must be fully aware of safety concerns during volunteer activities. Avoid working alone for risk management.

Article 4: Be a sympathetic listener

Often times volunteers try to cheer people in the community by saying “Hang on” or “I hope you feel better.” These words of encouragement can sound imprudent from time to time. It’s important to listen sympathetically to what the disaster victims have to say.

Article 5: Do not choose tasks that disaster victims can do themselves

When volunteering in disaster areas, we become passionate about doing all we could for the victims and take on every task. However, recovery takes place in the community. The volunteers’ role is to think about how we can support them.

Article 6: Stop any activity you find upsetting

There are cases where volunteers become emotionally scarred when facing devastating conditions and people in grief. If you cannot control your own emotions, you need to step away from the scene or make the decision to go home.

Article 7: Be clear about your limits

It may be difficult to say NO to a request from the victims. However, you have responsibility to follow through with whatever you say you will do despite volunteer activities being a service. You must be clear about your limits so that you do not become irresponsible.

Article 8: Do not become emotionally involved or overly sympathetic

Sometimes, volunteers become emotionally involved or overly sympathetic when listening to the stories of the disaster victims. However, remember that feeling sorry does not necessarily support them.

Article 9: When playing with children, do not go overboard trying to please them

It becomes a fun and memorable experience for children to play with volunteers. Nonetheless, you must realize that someone will have to look after them after excitement in an unnatural situation.

Article 10: Do not criticize volunteer operations management

Some people criticize volunteer activities that there is nothing to do or operations management gives poor instructions. However, nothing is born out of resentment. You must think independently about what you can do to serve the community.


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