Japanese Volunteers Celebrate 40th Anniversary

JOCV country representative in a group photograph with some staff and volunteers  

The Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), an international volunteering arm of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has launched its 40th anniversary celebration in Ghana.

The JOCV was initiated to promote technology, skills and knowledge transfer from Japanese volunteers to the people or students they work with to meet the developmental needs of the country, especially in the hinterlands.

Humphrey Kumah, Programmes Officer of JOCV, briefing the media on the genesis of the volunteers programme in Ghana, said the exchange note for the dispatch of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers to Ghana was signed on 21st February 1977.

He said since the programme’s inception, over 1, 252 junior JOCVs and 31 senior volunteers have completed their assignments in Ghana.

He said the volunteers, who visited the country were between the ages of 20 and 39 and had completed university and worked a few years before deciding to be volunteers.

Mr. Kumah added that currently there were about 82 volunteers, including senior volunteers serving in all 10 regions of the country in the area of education, health, vocational training, community development, social welfare, engineering, agriculture and sports.

The weeklong anniversary celebration is scheduled to take off from 21-26 August, with the official opening ceremony taking place on 22nd August at the Osu Ebenezer Presby Hall.

According to the JOCV Coordinator, Shinji Taguchi, the programme brings the people of Ghana and Japan together at the grassroot level, thereby promoting intercultural exchange.

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“Volunteers learn the language and culture of the people they work with and when they return to Japan they continue to portray the Ghanaian culture and are therefore qualified to be called ambassadors of Ghana in Japan” he said.

Yuka Ueno, a volunteer currently serving as a Community Development Officer to a local non-governmental organization (NGO), who shared her experience with the media, said some of the challenge she encountered were language barrier and cultural differences.

She, however, added that she learned to appreciate the Ghanaian culture and learnt the local language of the community she had been assigned to, adding that she has since been able to work effectively with her colleagues to achieve the goals of the organization.

By Abigail Owiredu-Boateng

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