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Monrovia's World Vision to Join in Disaster Relief Effort; Charity's Workers in Japan are OK

The local company is accepting donations but can't yet say how they'll be utilized.

Monrovia-based charity World Vision is collecting donations for the catastrophe relief effort in Japan and has people lined up waiting to travel and help in the disaster areas, representatives said Friday.

The organization, which is and describes itself as an "international aid Christian humanitarian organization" on its website, already had 75 workers stationed in Japan when the devastating earthquakes and tsunami hit Friday, killing several hundred people.

World Vision spokeswoman Rachel Wolff said that the charity's personnel survived the catastrophe.

"Thankfully we have been able to confirm that our staff in Japan and throughout the region are all accounted for and that’s helping us breathe a big sigh of relief for the moment," Wolff said.

The organization's task now is to figure out how to help, and it's been involved in similar situations before. The charity serves over 100 million people in 100 countries across the world, according to its website.

"The good thing is that we’re very experienced in disaster response, we know how to do it well," Wolff said.

Wold Vision is accepting donations and waiting to see how those funds will be utilized, Wolff said. It has been watching other countries in the region like the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia to see if they were also hit by tsunamis, but so far the destruction appears confined to Japan.

"For the last 15 hours or so, basically World Vision has been on high alert," Wolff said.

The charity was involved in disaster relief after earthquakes rocked Chile and Haiti, but Wolff said its mission may be different in Japan because the country is so developed. That's why it's important to wait and see what Japan requests, because they know their needs best, she said.

"We don’t want to get in the way and want to be laser focused on what is needed and what part of our global expertise we can bring to bear," Wolff said.

The company will provide basic necessities--like water purifying machines, tents bandages, and medicine-- if needed, but may focus more on the mental health of residents impacted by the disaster, she said.

"Those are the kinds of things that we’ll start to look at--how we can help meet people's psych0-social needs," Wolff said.

Wolff said the company should know more about how it will approach its relief effort in the next 12 hours.

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