MANILA, Philippines —Now, it’s their turn to help. A team of 25 medical workers and disaster relief experts from Japan arrived in Manila Monday night, keen to help a nation that lent a hand during their time of need.
“We will never forget what the Philippines did for us in 2011,” said Kenzo Iwakami of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, team leader of the Japanese medical mission.
He was referring to the Philippines’ contribution to relief efforts following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, a temblor that spurred a tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people.
“This time, we have to help you. Because two years ago, you helped us. So this time, this is our turn,” said Dr. Joji Tomioka, sub-leader and medical coordinator for JICA’s medical team for disaster relief.
The Philippines’ Department of Health sent a team of doctors to help provide emergency medical assistance to victims, including counselling to those shaken by the disaster, said Minister Akio Isomata of the Japanese Embassy in Manila.
He echoed Iwakami and said in a separate interview: “We will never forget that.”
The Japanese medical team, composed of three doctors, seven nurses, two pharmacists, five medical coordinators and officials from JICA and the Japanese Foreign Ministry, arrived in Manila at 7:20 p.m. Monday aboard a chartered Japan Airlines flight.
“We had wanted to come back to Manila with smiles,” Iwakami said in lament, noting how some members of the team had been assigned in the Philippines before.
The team, tentatively scheduled to work on the ground for two weeks, brought medical supplies and equipment enough to establish a medical facility in a calamity area.
“We brought some medications, equipment to make a field hospital,” said Tomioka.
“It’s an unbelievable calamity because as you know, we experienced this similar disaster on March11, 2011. We’re very sorry for this,” Iwakami told reporters upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Both have worked in Japanese medical and search and rescue missions in previous natural disasters: Iwakami worked on the ground in Phuket, Thailand in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami while Tomioko has experience in medical missions during calamities in many parts of the world.
The Japanese team is among several medical and search and rescue missions arriving in the Philippines from different parts of the world this week as the international community mounts a massive response to what could be the worst disaster to ever hit the country.
Other countries dispatching humanitarian missions to the Philippines include Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Israel and the United States.
Gives me hope!
Here are various ways you can help/donate too. Any amount will save lives.
Hope this is okay, mods.