August 31, 2017
Namaste! I am Hanna Miura, a master student at Tokyo University majoring in Human Security. My research questions focus on; to what extent local-ownership should take the initiative in peacebuilding, how it can be implemented practically and how the power imbalance between insiders and outsiders can be solved. I am especially focusing on the case study of East-Timor and Cambodia, where the United Nation played a huge role as interim-governments. Since my research mainly involves examining the policy making at the governmental level, I decided to apply for this internship to learn how policies are developed at the grass-root level. Moreover, I wanted to deepen my knowledge of how the policies are influenced at the grass-root level.
For one month (1st to the 31st August 2017) I did an internship at the Volunteer Section of JICA Nepal Office. My primary duty was to assist the research on the history of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) in Nepal for celebrating its 50th anniversary next year.
More than 1,400 volunteers have been dispatched in Nepal as JOCVs. One of my task was to divide the past volunteers into dispatched sectors based on the record and to create a statistic on the number of volunteers per region from 1970 to 2017. Then, I analyzed how JOCV has developed over the past years. Moreover, in order to assess the achievements of past works done by JOCV, I conducted interviews with dispatched volunteers and their counterparts. That included interaction with concerned officials and observation visit to assigned places in and around Syangja and Pokhara area. Through the field research, I was able to collect information on the sustainability of past works done by volunteers, its impact and how the local people perceived the work. Finally based on the data, I indicated my perspectives on future outlooks of JOCV activities.
By learning about past successful works of the JOCV, I changed my aspect towards the volunteers. Before taking part in this internship, I didn't believe volunteers have such power to make big changes. However, during my field trip at the fishery development center in Pokhara, I observed how skills, taught by JOCV more than 30 years ago, are still utilized. Moreover, the fish cage culture introduced by the JOCV made it possible to empower the whole community. With income increased by fish cages, the fishery community is now able to send children to school and the literacy rate at the center is rising dramatically. According to staff members at the Women's Skill Development Project Center, they have been teaching knitting to disabled women in urban areas, so that these people are able to gain some income by selling products made by them.
A farmer in Syangja shared his experiences on working with JOCVs and showed me his skilled work taught by the volunteers. He told me that he has been sharing his knowledge given by the JOCV members with local farmers. Hearing these stories of the JOCVs from local people, I was amazed by how much impact volunteers can make. Not only during their dispatched period but also after their departure, local people have been utilizing the skills and knowledge they have learned from the volunteers. These skills are handed over from generation to generation and are empowering the whole community. Furthermore, the working nature of these volunteers has positively influenced the local people to a great extent.
This internship at JICA Nepal Office taught me grass-root level activities are great potentials for the field of international cooperation. In the future, I would like to make a contribution to peace building as a staff member of the United Nations, JICA or other international organizations. I strongly believe the experience gained at this internship will help to carry out my future goal.