Jambo Africa: Report from David Wainaina, deployed at Satonomori support centre in Iwanuma City, Miyagi

Volunteer from Kenya, David Wainaina is deployed at Satonomori-support centre in Iwanuma-city, Miyagi prefecture. He works with former volunteers for overseas, who  assist recovery and reconstruction of The Great East Japan Earthquake, supporting people who are displaced by tsunami and currently live in temporary housing.

He had an event on October 24, to introduce his country Kenya and east Africa to the people in temporary housing.

 

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The original A.U. event is an idea that came from the Sato no Mori support center based in Iwanuma city after they learned that they would be receiving one A.U. volunteer for two months.

Since the support center works directly with those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake/Tsunami in Iwanuma, the event would focus on the residents of the temporary houses with inter-cultural exchange and enhanced communication being the main purpose of the event.

The event is scheduled to take place every Thursday for the time that I will be serving in Iwanuma. This report captures the highlights from the first event.

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The event commenced at 2 pm and was well attended with 25 residents attending the first A.U. event. The venue was Higashi shyuukai jyo (East Meeting Hall). 

The idea behind the theme ‘Jambo Africa’ was to share African culture after receiving many questions about Africa during my Jyunkai (routine visits) and various interactions with the temporary house residents.

We settled on opening the session with the most famous song in Kenya: ‘Jambo Bwana’.

The residents we each given a copy of the song translated in Japanese thanks to Masuyama-san and Sugiyama-san.

The next session entailed giving facts about Africa and the variations in size and population. This slide showed the size of Africa in relation to large countries such as USA, China, India, UK, East Europe and Japan – all of which could fit in Africa. The residents were very surprised to learn just how big Africa is in relation to the other continents.

One of the highlights of the presentation was the discussion about food and the varieties we have in East Africa. The residents were surprised to learn how we eat food, especially Ugali, with our hands.

The main difference between Japanese food and East African food, I explained, is variety since Japanese food has more options and is more healthy since the food is not over-cooked. On the other hand, African food is healthy because it is very nutritious given the fertility of the soil.

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Another highlight was on the type of clothing worn in East Africa both traditional and contemporary. One of the residents, Mrs. Tsueko Kobayashi, offered to model a famous Kenyan dress, the Khanga. She looked elegant and the residents were impressed by the quality and design of the garment. Mr. Takeshi Saitou, one of the temporary house residents, offers to model the famous Moran Shuka.

After finishing the presentation with an epic short documntary showing three Maasai shepherds hunting food from 15 lions, the residents had many questions.

We engaged in Q&A for 10 minutes as Sugiyama-san, who was my co-presenter for the day, did a great job in helping introduce Africa since she had volunteered in Kenya for two years. The first session ended at 3:30 pm and the residents wished me good luck and so did I.

The kid’s session began at 4:00 pm since they finish school in the afternoon. The age of the children ranged between 6 years and 12 years.
We began the session with me teaching them the ‘jambo Bwana’ song.

I was amazed by the pace they learned the words of the song by picking up the Swahili words very fast. They were keen to learn many aspects about life in Africa.

Some of the questions included:

  • How Big is Africa
  • What food do we eat in Africa?
  • Are there many children in Africa?

They were also keen to learn more about me as well. Some of the questions they asked are:

  • How old are you?
  • Are you married?
  • How many are you in your family?
  • How strong are you?

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This picture shows them testing my arm’s strength.

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The session ended as we danced to the famous song from South Africa - Shosholoza. The dance is a bit difficult but they were fantastic in their attitude.

From the event I learned that there was interest from the residents to learn about African culture. After reviewing the event as the support center team, we realized that although the event was rich in content, it was lacking some aspects of participants’ engagement during the presentation. As for the kids event, we also realized that they like to play games and hence we purpose to involve more games in the next event. Finally, I would like to appreciate the support center staff for helping me organize this event and for all the help in general. It wouldn’t have been a success if it wasn’t for the contribution of everyone.

I look forward to the next events!

Report: David Wainaina from Kenya
 

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