Monday, June 21, 2010

"Partner Ship" Kunisaki

The “Partnership” in Pacific Partnership 2010 refers to many kinds including national ones with Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Most visibly prominent among these at the moment is the partnership with Japan, because the JDS Kunisaki, a large ship of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, has been positioned right next to the USNS Mercy, at anchor or underway.

Also Japan is currently providing the most support of any of the partner nations. Their medical team includes more than 30 professional providers who work side by side with the Navy and Project HOPE and other Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).

One strong Japanese NGO for this kind of medical mission is HuMA, Humanitarian Medical Assistance, directed by Norifumi Ninomiya, M.D., Professor at the Nippon Medical School. The members of HuMA are among the many friendly Japanese people who welcomed us aboard the JDS Kunisaki for a gala evening celebration of our mission. Three of their members whom we have repeatedly encountered on land while working on our joint mission are pictured here at the party along with Faye Pyles, who is retired Navy captain, nurse, and HOPE volunteer helping to direct our group.

The party was a gala event with sushi brought in from Japan. It was held in the hangar area of the ship, transformed by vertical bands of red and white fabric blanketing the walls as well as by ceremonial sword fighting. Decorative fans for all the guests were eagerly welcomed to help with the oppressive humidity.

Tonight there will be another party on the Kunasaki, this time at the pier in Sihanoukville as shown here. The Japanese hosts will be serving sake to the guests, including seven people from Project HOPE. Each volunteer has the opportunity to attend one major party, and the Kunasaki has become the most favored spot—at least for today.

Thanks for reading - Mary Hamill, Ph.D.,Project HOPE PAO

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