Since its establishment in 1974, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has provided various forms of technical assistance in over 150 countries, and Botswana is lucky to be one of those. JICA is assisting Botswana with skills that help the government, international donor organisations, private enterprises and above all local people and communities in order to provide greater hope for the future. Right now Botswana boast of about 20 Japanese volunteers who are assisting in many organisations around the country and offering their services and expertise for free, with JICA bearing all their two years stay costs. Last week two of the volunteers arrived, male and female, who came to share their expertise in their field of work. The two volunteers are Miyamito Yoshiki who will be based at Selibe Phikwe Technical College and Makino Mika who will be at Mogonye gauge. Yoshiki will be offering technical assistance to the college and managing their computer network and website. He boast of a massive CV in which he has been to countries like United States of America(USA), Philippines and China among others, though excited about Botswana being the first African country for him to visit.
“Botswana is very hot, but I am happy I will be here for two years. I have worked as a systems engineer before and helped in the evaluation of lesson support software for elementary and junior high schools throughout Japan among others,” Yoshiki said. He also revealed that he designed two software applications for iPhone, which shows the massive level of expertise that he will be able to share with the local community. One thing that is closer to Yoshiki’s heart is football; he was actively involved in activities to establish a soccer club at Coffeyville in Japan.
Female volunteer, Makino Mika has been in the USA for more than 10 years where she worked as a tourism promoter, and this is exactly more or less the same thing that she will be doing in Botswana, since she will be responsible in making sure that people are familiarised with Mogonye as a tourism destination. Among her many educational compliments Mika also took time to study intercultural communication based on psychology and sociology. She said that being a volunteer had always been her childhood dream, and happy to be fulfilling that at a much larger scale. With her passion for tourism, before she came here Mika was in Japan where she came up with ways to promote her local village, which was among the least known villages in Japan. “I engaged in a lot of activities to help position my home village as a tourist attraction through different mediums of communication,” Mika said. She said that with all this experience that she has, she wants to increase the number of events taking place in Mogonye village and promote the place so that the tourism there can plummet.
“My main target is not Batswana, but foreigners because I believe there are so many opportunities there. From the little study that I have done since I got here, I have realised that most people know Mogonye but it is not popular as a tourism destination,” Mika said.
Though Mogonye is not very far away from the city, Mika said after their three (3) weeks of learning basic Setswana, she will then be dispatched to her work place, where she vowed not to come often to Gaborone since Mogonye is not far away from the city, in order to completely blend with the community and know the traditional way of living.
One of the volunteers who have been in Botswana for a year, Chunsuke Ozawa, affectionately called Kagiso by the Letlhakane and Khwee community that he serves as a social worker said that the warmth and good reception that they get from Batswana is what makes their stay here easy and as such making their jobs enjoyable. He said that though he misses family at times, he gets comfort from the community that he serves, and this was evident with how good he is in Setswana and the culture. Ozawa takes care of children in the remote Basarwa settlement Khwee, and revealed that his favourite local cuisines are motogo ka madila (sour milk) and seswaa (pounded meat).
JICA said their aim is to make sure that they address the global agenda including climate change, water, food and, infectious diseases and financing, reducing poverty through equitable growth, improving governance and achieving human security. The JICA Resident Representative for Botswana Office Akihiko Hoshino said in Botswana they are more into contributing to the development of human resources, and offer training courses to Batswana in which so far JICA has trained over 600 Batswana in various training programs such as health, education, transport and communications. He said the process for a company to be sent a volunteer is after the said organisation identifies their technical assistance required of a JICA volunteer, and accordingly contact JICA Botswana office. The office will then assess the request, and a request form will be sent to the requesting organisation to complete and return to JICA Botswana office through the Department of Public Service Management (DPSM).
“The DPSM will then endorse the request and forward it to the ministry of foreign affairs, then the ministry will endorse it and forward to the Embassy of Japan and JICA Botswana office, which will send the request to Japan for selection of a volunteer,” he said.
The Japanese showed their excitement of being in Botswana, and vowed to make sure that they leave an impact when their 2 years elapses.