Bringing Medical Care to Africa
Naoyuki Kawahara is a physician who was sent by Japan’s foreign ministry to Sudan. There, he was inspired to start his own NGO, which travels the country providing medical services to people in need.
The following are excerpts from our interview.
The way people live in Africa made a big impression on me. People are living in poverty, lots of people are sick. No electricity, no water utility, so the only drinking water is dirty. That’s the situation. And so people are extremely resilient and strong. I thought, wow, people really live like this.
People often get sick with E. coli and other things because their drinking water is polluted. If you drink water from a river, you may get sick, but if you have clean well water, you’re less likely to.
Girls will go and draw water. Islam is taken very seriously in Sudan. Often, the father is the absolute master of the house. And women take care of the home. You might be 60 to 90 minutes away from a river. So we build the wells in the center of villages.
If you’re spending two or three hours less on getting water, you'll have time to go to school. We explained that to the fathers, and they understood. And then we also built schools. So now girls can go to school.
Girls didn’t used to go to school in these places. So the wells have had a positive impact in multiple ways.
An area of 20,000 people, and the only medical care comes from these patrolling vehicles. It means a given person can see a doctor maybe once a month. And they have a tiny time window. People wanted a place where they could get regular care.
Our plan is to build three clinics in places where we currently offer remote care. We've just completed the first one. And it was thanks to generous donations from the Japanese people. One building is $100,000.
We raised $300,000, so we can build three clinics.
The Japanese people care. These people in Sudan, who are Muslim, may get to know Japan better now.
This is a small thing, but if we can do it well, then more and more people will gain a better understanding of Japan.