A CELEBRATION was held on Thursday at the Rex by Royal St. Lucia to highlight the 20th anniversary of the works of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) in St. Lucia as well as the organisation’s 50th anniversary overall.
Prime Minister Anthony along with distinguished Japanese guests including the Ambassador YoshimasaTezuka and the volunteers and representatives of the organisation were present to be a part of the celebration.
The event which was opened with a performance by the JOCV choir was held to highlight the good works done selflessly by 140 volunteers since the initiative was introduced to St. Lucian shores.
Prime Minister Dr. Anthony addressed the audience by giving a heart felt “thank you” for the contributions provided by the organisation and its volunteers over the years.
Dr. Anthony said: “They have provided us with expertise in many specialised areas where we have gaps in our own capacity. Your impact was originally concentrated on an area that I’m very passionate about, that is assisting us with the education of our children.”
Dr. Anthony said the Japanese had provided thousands of hours of teaching in the much needed areas of Mathematics and Science education notwithstanding their other assignments in other sectors like social welfare, poverty reduction, environmental awareness, community development and healthcare.
The Prime Minister said great emphasis was also placed on environmental sustainability, human security and governance.
Dr. Anthony lauded the volunteers for making the sacrifices of leaving their homes, families and all that they know to come to a foreign land with new and different customs than their own.
He said: “This is indeed extremely commendable and we are extremely grateful for what you have agreed to do and we know you do it not just for your own personal fulfilment but also in the name of country and thus, your country must be proud of you as ambassadors of Japan in your own right.”
Ambassador Tezuka began his address on a funny note by beginning his speech in the local Creole language.
He said he was pleased to be part of the celebration although it would be his last as serving Ambassador of Japan to St. Lucia. Tezuka, whose tenure ends at the end of this month said he was happy that he got to end it in his “favourite Caribbean island”.
He said: “I take comfort in the fact that there has been significant improvement in out relations during my tour in the Caribbean.”
JOCVs are Japanese citizen volunteers aged between 20 and 39 who follow their dreams and passions of helping towards the development of other countries. They may spend up to two years in developing countries as long term volunteers or between one to ten months as short term volunteers.
Persons over 39 may volunteer as a senior volunteer and are aged between 40 – 69 years old.