VILLABA LEYTE NEWS –– At least 39 student volunteers from various reputable universities in Japan are now on a three–day immersion volunteer work here in Barangay Buga–Buga, a remote hinterland of Villaba, in northern Leyte.
Wakana Suzuki of Gunmajoshi University disclosed to the Visayan Business Post news team covering the event that the Japanese students who are also members of the INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER UNIVERSITY STUDENT ASSOCIATION (IVUSA) came to Leyte to offer their support to the community of historic Buga–Buga Hill who have not yet fully recovered almost ten months after super typhoon Yolanda hit the region.
Suzuki whose family suffered in the 2011 earthquake that hit Tohoku in Japan said she could relate to the disaster experience of Filipinos here in Leyte.
The IVUSA volunteers planted 150 Caballero and 50 Lanitga trees along the riverbanks of Buga–Buga to help reforest the area.
“Our group appreciates the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to us by the residents here in Buga–Buga”, said IVUSA student leader Shiori Yanai. Yanai added that the extent of damage that could still be observed in Leyte reminded them about the truth of what really happened after typhoon Yolanda. “It is something that we must never forget”, said the 22 year old International Cooperation student from Takushoku University.
Meanwhile, twenty–one year old Hayato Oshima from Kokugakuin University said that the Japanese contingent will be conducting a disaster management lecture and workshop to Buga–Buga elementary students as part of sharing disaster awareness and preparedness. “We will also be giving a lecture on local history as part of IVUSA’s culture exchange program”, said Oshima.
Buga–Buga Hill is where the celebrated Japanese General Suzuki made his last stand against the American liberation forces at the end of World War II. The breezy hill is the site of numerous epic skirmishes where thousands of Japanese and American soldiers are said to have lost their lives in battle.
(Full feature on this story will be released with the September 2014 digital edition of the Visayan Business Post)