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Japanese volunteer leaves a vast amount of knowledge behind

Japanese volunteer leaves a vast amount of knowledge behind

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After spending just over two years with the residents of Sandy Bay, Chie Takema, Japanese International Cooperation Agency Overseas Volunteer, leaves St.Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Chie (pronounced She-ah), as she is popularly called, came to these shores in September 2008, as a Rural Community Development Officer on the request of CARDI, through the Ministry of Agriculture.

At the time the Ministry required some expertise to work with sweet potato crops, in the area of value addition and food security. With a commendable grasp of the English language, she undertook the challenge set before her.

Working from the base established at the Arrowroot Industry compound at Orange Hill, Chie used her expertise in food technology to develop a series of products made from the sweet potato that were socially palatable, affordable, nutritious and acceptable.

She immediately became involved with the residents of the North Windward communities, especially so, those at Sandy Bay, working with the schools and later on, the women folk, to introduce products from the sweet potato such as : Muffins, Raisin Bread, Croquettes, Sausage rolls, Cakes, Pies and Pastries and Doughnuts.

She worked with the assistance of Jozel Daniel, who was instrumental in assisting with the organization of a number of community activities, such as a fair and exhibition in April, at the Old Sandy Bay School.

At the events, residents were introduced to the products produced by the various groups.

Chie also used the opportunity to entertain the patrons with elements from her Japanese culture. She extended her involvement within the community by holding two summer school programmes in which the children were involved in T-shirt tie-dying, an art competition depicting an understanding of agriculture, and field trips to view the production of sweet potato on the CARDI field station at Orange Hill.They also took a visit to the Lauders Agro Processing Plant, now renamed Vincy Fresh.

As she prepares to leave these shores, Chie recounted some of her most cherishable moments, such as the wonderful reception, kindness and hospitality extended to her from the locals, who would have participated and given assistance to all of the activities and events executed.

“I totally enjoyed St.Vincent, as I got a lot of help from the villagers. My activities eventually were not mine, but became that of the community, as they contributed and participated in many ways,” said Chie.

She said some of the products that she taught them to make are now used in the preparation of their Sunday meals and were even taken to church for special events.

“So I am happy. There are potential in Sandy Bay as the residents are motivated to learn and they grab at the opportunity to do so,” she emphasized.

Even though “it was a challenge” communicating in the local dialect used by most persons, Chie was able to do a commendable job and leaves a good base for the new volunteer, Nobue Yamauchi, who took over, yesterday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, along with CARDI, has expressed thanks to Chie for the accomplishments with the residents and her contribution to its policy initiatives in agricultural diversification.

They also welcomed new volunteer, Nobue Yamauchi.

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