Name: Yeliz TEKER
Name of the Program: Capacity Building for School Based Disaster Risk Reduction
Program Period: 27 June-16 July 2016
Hajimemashite. Watashi wa Yeliz desu. Kuni wa Toruku desu. Dozo yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
Hello, my name is Yeliz Teker and I have joined the program from Ankara, Turkey. One of my biggest interests in life is to get educated about different cultures, visit new countries, discover new places and share these amazing experiences with others as much as possible. I would say, adapting into new places quickly and connecting with other people easily, are two of my favorite attributes.
I am currently working as a Geological engineer in the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. One of the main reasons I have selected Geological engineering as a profession was my passion in nature and human’s role in it. During the nine years in my tenure, I have been doing research in the field of disaster management. In my organization, I am mainly responsible for preparing disaster risk management plans, generation and facilitation of various educational/awareness studies on prevention and reduction of disaster impacts across the country. I would describe the process of the problem definition, creating a variety of solutions to disaster impacts and observing the successful outcomes of those measures as the most rewarding part of my job.
With a number of attendees, experts in various fields, from different countries such as Azerbaijan, India, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Chile and Turkey, this program not only accomplished emphasizing the importance of the educational activities in disaster management, but also provided all the attendees with the opportunity to share their knowledge in best practices of developing DRR with others. Furthermore, the program has given all the experts the chance to get familiar with the system and work culture in other countries as well as that of Japan.
The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake which occurred in 1995 has played an important role in adopting new measures against natural disasters and promoting educational studies in reduction of disaster impacts in Japan. Since then, thanks to these educational activities, Japan’s disaster risk reduction awareness has considerably increased. After my visit, I am particularly impressed to witness the individuals who have lived through the past natural disasters volunteering to share their personal memories in public places such as museums and schools. Japan sets an amazing example to encourage the individuals, the society, the related companies and associations to involve in the disaster risk reduction studies and drills. Regarding how advanced Japan has been in awareness of disaster prevention, another example to give is an establishment of groups who are composed of local volunteers, and generation of “BOKOMI”, and establishing schools as the safe-gathering areas after disasters. During the program, we have found chances to observe the disaster risk reduction activities in their original locations. The rapid recovery of those once-impacted areas demonstrate the society’s high anticipation level in reacting to disasters and that how successfully Japan has adopted a disaster-aware culture. One last point I would like to mention is that exhibiting the marks of past disasters, and establishing disaster reduction centers as shown in The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum is a very impressive and successful implementation to minimize the disaster impacts.
The past data shows that the biggest losses are caused by the lack of readiness and knowledge in what-to-do during a disaster. These losses and impacts can be minimized by educating individuals and families in how they should behave and react in the case of a disaster.
Education is the biggest tool to fight against the natural disasters. Hence, the schools are the perfect locations to promote disaster awareness, and schools’ successful utilization yields a sustainable, disaster-aware society. By the same token, Japan’s encouraging the volunteers to involve at schools is another catalyzer to help enhancement of disaster awareness.
As, without a doubt, Japan sets an incredible example to other countries to show how to fight against natural disasters, this program has become an eye-opening experience to all attendees.
Moreover, in three weeks I spent in Japan, observing all the characteristics of Japanese life style in its original location was an emotional and rewarding experience. Japanese people’s being extremely hardworking, their punctuality, incredible hospitality and respect in other people are few examples that I have experienced and that I will always remember and share with my friends and family.
In addition to all I mentioned above, Japanese history is full of great notions which are famous all over the world. Some of those historical items are samurai, sumo, tea ceremony, martial arts such as judo and karate, origami, krigami and sakura. In Japanese culture, Sakura symbolizes the beginning of a new life as wells as the inevitable end. I found so touching that in Japanese literature, Sakura implies the hand-to-hand togetherness of life and death. I would like to complete my article with these beautiful sentences:
Life is full of contrasts,
Such as in white and black, such as in good or bad, and such as life and death.
In the end, having started with this organization, I look forward to participating further collaboration in disaster risk reduction, and would like to extend my gratitude and genuine thanks to JICA Kansai and all the supporting entities for this amazing program.