NPO Ubuntu was founded with the aim of “Creating a platform for cooperation between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and JAPAN in areas of but not limited to education, health, environment and cultural exchange”. NPO Ubuntu works hand in hand with SADC Embassies in Japan which include Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ubuntu is currently diversifying its efforts to ensure that it benefits both sides of its work-map which includes the whole SADC region on one hand and Japan on the other. As such, the NPO is proud to offer the following programs in Japan.
Ubuntu Cultural Exchange Program (UCEP)
Although the main objective of this programme is nested in the above two projects, the UCEP specifically targets the provision of opportunities for Japanese students to visit African diplomats’ and expats’ homes and do short weekend stays and experience African lifestyles, food and culture. This is specifically aimed at giving the students a chance to discover Africa and the world and become more globally conscious citizens.
During their interaction with their host families, the student interns will also provide assistance to families of diplomats and SADC expats in Japan with orientation on certain things about Japan and on any other needs.
The UCEP will also offer a lifetime chance for students to learn and practice their skills in languages like English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili and any other language of their choice widely spoken in the SADC region. The students will be placed in a family which would help them develop their skills according to their language of interest.
As part of the UCEP, students will have a chance of going for a short trip to a chosen SADC region country each year to involve themselves in various community work. These trips shall be when students are on vacation. Students shall have an opportunity to do sightseeing, participate in local communities’ activities like tree-planting, cultural ceremonies and many others.
Ubuntu Internship Program (UIP)
The internship programme will be run by NPO Ubuntu in collaboration with SADC’s 15-member country embassies. The program targets Japanese residents especially Japanese young nationals of age 18 and older who have an interest in Africa. The internship will offer a chance to learn about Africa and share about Japan with African diplomats and expats families thereby promoting strong ties and contributing towards development efforts between Japan and Africa.
The program specifically aims to create a pool of Japanese young adults who can take up internships with SADC missions in Japan and in Africa, support SADC with events being staged in Japan and support families of SADC diplomats and expats in Japan with orientation and any other needs.
In the long term, the program seeks to open up collaboration and internship possibilities, for Japanese nationals, in the 15 SADC member states which will be extended to companies and other organizations in the SADC region such as local governments and educational institutions in Africa.
The internship program will also, in future, work on accepting interns from Africa interested in interning with Japanese Organizations.
The above programmes are of immerse and mutual benefit to all the stakeholders involved as detailed below;
One of the key stakeholders poised to benefit from the three programmes are the SADC member states’ embassies in Japan. These will have access to a pool of Japanese nationals that have an interest in their specific countries and can provide support on their various activities here in Japan. These Japanese nationals may also assist with office work like translations and interpretation of documents in Japanese, communication to embassy clients, doing research for embassy staff and on any other errands as needed from time to time.
The Japanese nationals may also help with proving support to visiting delegates, diplomats’ families, expats, and students from specific African countries. They may also be key to supporting embassy events in Japan aimed at boosting the visibility of particular SADC states for tourism and cooperation purposes.
Interns and Volunteers
Another key stakeholder that stands to benefit a lot from the programmes are the interns and aspiring volunteers themselves.
Upon successful completion of their designated period, the two groups will benefit the following;
1. An Ubuntu Certificate of Completion
2. Exposure and networks with the SADC region and Japanese companies working there.
3. An opportunity to intern at SADC Embassies of their choice for student interns
4. Knowledge of African cultures specific to their country of interest
5. An opportunity to travel to Africa for first-hand experiences
The Japanese society stands to benefit from the three programmes in a number of ways some of which are as follows;
The programmes are going to promote the spread of Japanese culture and influence through the interaction between Japanese nationals, young interns and volunteers, and SADC region nationals.
The programmes shall develop global skills in Japanese youths which are key to the positioning of Japan as a highly globalized nation on the world rankings. Young Japanese nationals are likely to develop skills like knowledge of other cultures, coexistence and language skills just to mention a few.
The programmes shall also create human capital for Japanese companies already working or interested in investing in Africa especially the SADC region. It will create a pool of Japanese nationals who are well versed with cultural dynamics in the SADC region which is key to the successful implementation of such companies’ projects in Africa
Ubuntu Volunteer Support Program (UVSP)
Japan has been sending hundreds of volunteers under the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to Africa including the SADC region for several years now. The volunteers have worked in various fields including education and agriculture. The UVSP aims at supporting these Japanese nationals who have an interest in volunteer work in the SADC region in cooperation with embassies, local governments and civil society in the SADC region.
As a way of preparing future volunteers, NPO Ubuntu will coordinate the arrangement of prospective volunteers’ homestays with identified African homes and short study visits to Southern Africa. This will ensure that such aspiring volunteers are well versed with the cultures, and other aspects of life in different African countries before they go for their actual volunteer work. The volunteers will also have a chance to attain survival language skills for the country they are interested in. They will also share about Japan to their host families thereby promoting cultural exchange and strengthening ties between Japan and the SADC region countries.
The implementation of the UIP, UVSP and UCEP is of great benefit to all the stakeholders of NPO Ubuntu’s work. The importance of all the three programmes cannot be overemphasized. We are confident that they will make a significant contribution to the participants’ lives and those of their respective societies. We, therefore, appeal to all the stakeholders to join us in our effort to facilitate the mutual benefit of both the SADC member states and Japanese societies.