This paper argues that the work of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) brought about sustained developments in social capital in the host communities and contributed to motivating people to change their individual behavior. A mixed-methods approach using semi-structured interviews and surveys was used to examine how Volunteers worked to instill “norms”, “trust,” and affect changes of “sentiment” among people in two developing countries, Bangladesh and Honduras.
Specifically, the paper is concerned with the activities undertaken by the JOCV within the Polio Control/EPI (Expanded Program on Immunization) programs in Bangladesh from 1999 to 2015, and the Chagas Disease Vector Control program carried out in Honduras from 2003 to 2011. The key findings of the study include: In Bangladesh, the JOCV contributed to improving the motivation of field workers, demonstrating that their “trust” for enlarging the acceptance of vaccinations has increased as a result of their work; this then resulted in vaccinations becoming the new “norm” for the community. In this respect, the increased “trust” and changing “norms” contributed to the 2004 polio free declaration in the country by altering social capital.
In Honduras, the JOCV promoted the creation of an “exchange of responses” between health administrations and communities by stimulating the intrinsic motivation of the people concerned and generating positive sentiment among them. As a result, three common “sentiments” were identified among local Community Health Volunteers: happiness, a sense of achievement, and pride. This indicates that the JOCV created and altered social capital that supported self-sustained vector control.
In both Bangladesh and Honduras, the Volunteers accompanied their local colleagues during fieldwork, spoke the same language, and shared common successes and failures. Cooperation between JOCV and local colleagues was an important factor in altering the hearts, minds, and sentiments of the local partners and communities, and contributed to the achievement of the important goal of disease control. This paper argues that more attention should be focused on the heart, mind, and sentimental aspects of the individual aid workers.
Keywords: Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), social capital, sentiment, Polio/Expanded Program on Immunization, Chagas Disease Control