March 18, 2020
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said that dispatch of Japanese volunteers in the Philippines remains key part of Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines to help bridge gap in development areas in the provinces.
As the Japanese bilateral aid agency marks the 55th year of its volunteer program, three female Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) are currently working in areas such as public health, special education, and dairy farming in Visayas region.
"The JOCVs play a key role in our international cooperation activities in the Philippines. Young Japanese volunteers leave their families and careers in Japan to live with communities in the Philippines, share technical expertise, and create innovative projects that help solve socio-economic challenges," said JICA Philippines Senior Representative KANO Aya.
Notably, female Japanese volunteers have also been increasing in JICA partner countries with 2,961 female volunteers dispatched in Southeast Asia alone. In the Philippines, women volunteers work in disciplines as varied as public health, special education, and veterinary medicine, proof that women volunteers can make positive impact even in diverse cultural environments like the Philippines.
JOCV AKAGI Chika, a public health nurse, is working with rural health workers in Leyte to promote healthy lifestyle practices in remote barangays. Her project seeks to improve diagnosis and reduce patients with non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension in Leyte.
"The Japanese volunteer helps us teach proper nutrition and health practices in barangays using easy to understand information and education materials. She also knows the local language and has immersed herself in local culture," said Dr. Yvonne Ragasa, Municipal Health Officer.
Meanwhile, JOCV FUDO Midori, an agriculturist and a special education (SPED) teacher, is sharing life skills and livelihood making to SPED students in Maasin Central Elementary School. "The goal of the project is to teach independence among students with disabilities by exposing them to the entire process of vegetable production including marketing, among others" shared Fudo.
In Dumaguete where quality milk production is a challenge among dairy farmers, Japanese volunteer YOSHIDA Emi is teaching dairy farmers on making probiotics for cows to help improve the quality of milk they produce. "There is no veterinarian assisting the dairy farmers' cooperative and since I'm a veterinarian by profession, I am helping them improve milk testing methods and teach them dairy farm management," said Yoshida.
The rest of the present batch of Japanese volunteers in the Philippines are also supporting development areas such as disaster risk reduction and management, social welfare services, community development, among others.
Aside from forging Japan-Philippines relations, the JOCVs have been introducing innovative solutions to socioeconomic problems in the Philippines since the program began in 1965. Back in 2013, a Japanese volunteer introduced the Philippines' first fabrication laboratory (fablab) to support small and medium enterprises in the creative industry. The fablab enabled SMEs to design anything using an open source software, and the government adopted the concept as a shared services facility for SMEs to help the latter expand their markets.
As testament to their contribution to inclusive development, the JOCVs were recipients of the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize, for their leadership and service to the people of Asia. To know more about the JOCV Program, you may visit: https://www.jica.go.jp/philippine/english/activities/activity_01_04.html
Japanese volunteer AKAGI Chika (standing) conducts regular health education to patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension in barangays in Leyte
JOCV FUDO Midori (standing, in white) teaches SPED students livelihood skills such as vegetable growing
Veterinarian YOSHIDA Emi (in green), teaches dairy farmers from Negros Oriental proper techniques to improve milk production