Japanese Medical Aid Group in Africa Wins Yomiuri Prize; Rocinantes Helps Poor in Sudan, Mothers in Zambia

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Naoyuki Kawahara, president of Rocinantes, speaks at the Yomiuri International Cooperation Prize award ceremony in Tokyo on Friday.

The nonprofit organization Rocinantes, which has provided medical services in rural areas of Sudan and supported pregnant and nursing mothers in Zambia, received the 30th Yomiuri International Cooperation Prize, which includes ¥5 million, at a ceremony on Friday at a Tokyo hotel.

Based in Kitakyushu, Rocinantes is led by President Naoyuki Kawahara, 58.

Speaking at the ceremony, Kawahara said, “I believe that ‘Team Rocinantes’ received this prize.”

He said that the team includes organization staff members as well as people who support the organization and the people of Africa. “I want to share the joy with everyone, both people in Japan and people in Africa,” Kawahara said.

At the ceremony, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa also delivered a speech, praising Rocinantes’ activities. Kamikawa said that Rocinantes has persevered in its efforts to protect lives and health in a variety of ways. “I believe that these people-centered development efforts that focus on each individual are a very important asset that have led to international trust in Japan’s development cooperation,” she said.

Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda also delivered a speech, describing Kawahara as a wonderful person who has worked hard over a long period of time. “As a Japanese, I am proud that there is such a great person,” Fukuda said.

Kawahara established Rocinantes in 2006 after resigning from his position as medical attache at the Japanese Embassy in Sudan.

In Sudan, Rocinantes has been working to improve medical care for the poor in rural areas that have no doctors. In Zambia, the group has been making efforts in maternal and child health care activities, such as building a facility where expectant mothers can stay.