26 de Mar de 2023


Japanese help for Panama’s needy

PANAMA. The much heralded U. S. Peace Corps, introduced by President Kennedy, has been a longtime fixture in Panama. The daughter of ...

PANAMA. The much heralded U. S. Peace Corps, introduced by President Kennedy, has been a longtime fixture in Panama. The daughter of the soon to be gone current president even wrote a book about her experiences. Not too readable, but that’s another story.

Meanwhile, working away from the spotlight another organization, from Japan, has been quietly contributing to the needs of underprivileged groups in Panama. JINCA (the Japan International Corporation Agency) has volunteers, each on a two-year mission, in locations across the country from Panama to David, Chiriqui and Santiago.

They work in rehabilitation centers, The Gorgas Institute and the Children’s hospital, helping with research, logistical support and providing help and encouragement to orphans and children with HIV.

Typical of the volunteers is Mika Momma, a Japanese high school teacher, who has taken time away from her career to help out at the Children’s Hospital, and the Gorgas Institute and is a devoted contributor to the Aid for Aids (Hogar de Malambo) international program, which works with over 300 children under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health, and Social Security.

To the children she is a beacon of light, to her organization, she has the mundane but honored designation of a JOCV, (Japan Overseas Corps Volunteer), the foot soldiers of the worldwide program.

In January she will celebrating the completion of three years in the country.

This week, along with fellow volunteers and University of Panama professor Chikako Doi, she will be helping to introduce Panamanians to a broad thumbnail sketch of Japanese culture entitled “Meeting of the hearts”.

Starting at 1 p.m. on the first floor of the Humanities faculty, visitors will receive presentations giving an overview of the country, it’s history, culture, and role in the world today.

From 5 p.m. on there will be demonstrations of Karate and other martial arts, the famed Japanese tea ceremony, an important part of the education of Japanese women, a violoncello performance by professor Yumiko Tokumoto, Japanese songs sung in Japanese and Spanish and exhibitions of traditional Japanese dances by students from the Japanese school, located in Marbella.

Stands will display origami, calligraphy, theatre, comic animation and some more sobering presentations like the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a stark reminder of the only time that the ultimate Weapons of Mass Destruction have been used.

Visitors will even have the opportunity to get a brief grounding in the Japanese language.

View all of these, and more, and you will qualify for dorayaki, a sampling genuine of Japanese Cuisine, as opposed to the pale imitations we subscribe to in local restaurants.

Entrance is free. The full program runs from 1.pm. to 8 p.m. but you will be welcome to drop by at any time and say: “Konichiwas”, and hear in return: “Irasshaimase”.

Drop by, learn how to do do origami, add to your international vocabulary, and reflect on the horrors of the bomb.