Japanese flower helps residents in Vietnamese Central Highlands

Japanese Morita Yuko gave up her stable job in Japan and goodbye her relatives to work as a volunteer in Mang Yang district, a rural and mountainous district of the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, for over ten years.

Yuko ( with a conical hat and Vietnamese traditional clothing) talks to residents about safe eating (Photo: SGGP)

Yuko ( with a conical hat and Vietnamese traditional clothing) talks to residents about safe eating (Photo: SGGP)

She considers the “heaven gate” land as her second fatherland now.
At a first glance, very few people are able to recognize that Yuko is a Japanese. The small Japanese flower is thought to be a Vietnamese for her slender figure and courteous ways of speaking. Only when she was introduced by Mang Yang leaders to be a Japanese volunteer in distant and rural district in Mang Yang.
After graduating from the Department of International Relation in the US and coming to France to further pursue schooling, Morita Yuko applied for the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s volunteer program.
Yuko feels happy in coming here to help local inhabitants escape poverty. She spends most of her time instructing locals to make biological products for husbandry and planting as well as how to keep environment clean and handle pollution.
She and other volunteers have helped residents in Kon Thup to treat polluted water source in DAk Ponan village’s water pond.
Being an expert of JICA “Community Development Consultancy” project which is being piloted in Po Lang and Kon Thup communes of Mang Yang district, Yuko has regularly been to every hamlet and commune with a conical hat and special Vietnamese clothing which locals presented to her and regardless of whatever kind of weather, Morita Yuko carries sand, water and fish out wild trees in canals. Locals are moved at the picture of enthusiastic Japanese volunteer. She is affectionately called by Bahnar ethnics in Mang Yang as “Cherry Flower."
Yuko and other JICA collaborators consider helping poor ethnic minority people in disadvantaged districts in Vietnam as a meaningful work in their life. Yuko has worked as a volunteer in Vietnam from August, 2006. She had helped residents in the northern province of Bac Giang improve their income before.
When she was in Gia Lai, Yuko raised ethnic minority people’s awareness of environmental hygiene and growing safe vegetables as well as keeping personal hygiene.
Senior man Dinh Tuol of Dak Ponan village said locals’ awareness of environmental hygiene has been improved much thanks to Yuko’s efforts. She worked regardless of whatever kind of weather. Villagers all love her.
In 2016, Yuko continued her schooling in England. Right after graduation in 2018, Yuko came back Hanoi to work as JICA coordinator. She was supposed to have good job in Japan but she volunteered to help poor people in an alien country to improve their income.
Yuko says that before coming to Vietnam, she had two months learning Vietnamese in. She feels satisfactory for being able to lead a life that she prefers and dreams of, being arriving to a place which needs help. She thinks living means giving away, and giving away also means receiving.

By DUC TRUNG - Translated by DAN THUY

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