A letter from Ms. Sakurai

 (We received a letter from a member of our volunteer staff Ms. Sakurai who is currently living in the Marshall Islands and working as a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.)


Hello. Long time no see! How have you and the KIEA staff been?
I have been having a few stomach aches lately, but other than that I am doing well.

Sometimes I wear the KIEA staff polo shirt when I am working.
 It has already been 3 months since I arrived in the Marshall Islands.
This week we had some new volunteers come from Japan so I went and picked them up at the airport.
Meeting the new volunteers made me think a lot about my time here.


Marshall Islands pretty much has everything I need and at a glance does not really seem like a developing country.
However, after living here for a while I have realized that it is very different to Japan.
 Our language seminar was held on one of the smaller islands called Arno Atoll.
 We caught our own fish, picked coconuts from the trees and were basically self-sufficient.
We also had solar power so we hardly used any electricity and at night we used only the light from our lamps.
 I couldn’t believe how many stars there were, it was amazing.


At the moment my job involves collecting information on the current situation here and using this to plan my goal.
 I talk to various people in the field, take surveys about people’s diets and also visit a diabetes clinic.
 In my office there is the director and 4 other staff.
They are all very friendly, but they are often absent.
I feel that their attitude towards their jobs is greatly different to that of Japanese people’s.
 If I don’t understand something, I ask a lot of questions.
Even with my poor English my coworkers try very hard to understand what I am trying to say.
 In the hospital there are many foreign people so we mainly use English, however all of the staff in my office are from the Marshall Islands so we speak and hold all our meetings in Marshallese.

Both languages are essential for living here and while Marshallese is difficult to pronounce, it definitely seems friendlier to the listener so I am doing my best to learn it.

The first photo was taken when I went to a nearby island for a medical checkup and the 2nd one was taken when we were having lunch together with people from the Taiwan Health Center.
You can see the ocean right behind us.
 The Taiwanese volunteers do tests for diabetes and because their work is similar to ours so we have become quite close.


The other day we also had a picnic at Laura beach with some other people from the program, some of the Taiwanese volunteers and some Japanese tourists.
 There was the unexpected event of our bus driver being pulled over by the police, questioned for drink driving and then running away but other than that Laura was a very fun and beautiful beach with lots of different types of fish.


I will write again soon.
Say hello to everyone for me and take care

Mizuki Sakurai





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