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Peshawar-kai (PMS) has commenced a “Post Nakamura Era”

picture:Dr. Tetsu Nakamura (photo on the right) ©Peshawar-kai, Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS)


『International Development Journal』 2020 March edition

A farewell reception for Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, a leader of the NGO Peshawar-kai, Peace Japan Medical Services, who was shot dead in Afghanistan last December, was held on January 25 in Fukuoka City. NGO members pledged to continue the projects in medical support and irrigation canal construction in response to his wishes.

Farewell for Dr.Nakamura and five Afghans

On the stage of the Seinan Gakuin University’s Chapel, where the farewell reception was held, the portraits of five Afghan drivers and security guards were adorned around a large photo of Dr. Nakamura. They were all shot and killed together at the same time.
Afghan Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Bashir Mohabbat, who had a friendship with Dr. Nakamura, made the memorial speech in fluent Japanese. “Dr. Nakamura called for construction of an irrigation canal even more seriously than 100 clinics and devoted his life to changing the lives of Afghan people suffering from water shortages, malnutrition and infectious diseases due to the drought. He was called ‘Kakamurad (Uncle Mura)’ and I feel very sorry that I couldn’t save him. I am full of regrets and sadness,” he said, wiping away his tears.
The next speaker was Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). He said that he respected Dr. Nakamura and once invited him to give a lecture at the International University, where Kitaoka served as a president. “In Afghanistan, although it is also very difficult for the United Nations and the Red Cross to implement their projects, one medical doctor unprecedentedly realized green land planning. He garnered the strong trust of citizens and the poor farmers because he built canals making use mostly of local materials and people. He was really a modern hero. We are very proud to have lived with him in the same era.”
At the venue, films of the PMS activities were played. Dr. Nakamura was shown on a steep mountain road with a donkey visiting villages for medical treatment, and a view of the fields where water spread throughout the irrigation canal. Irrigation canal construction has reached a total length of 27 km, and the number of inhabitants who benefit from cultivation of rice, olives, sugarcane, oranges and other products reaches a population of 650,000. Tree planting such as willows and dates has reached one million last year. There are more than 1,600 wells dug.
The tribute to this amazing man was followed by a long, long line of more than 5,000 people. A pastor of a church where Dr. Nakamura attended, a medical doctor on a remote island in Tokunoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture who was inspired by Dr. Nakamura when he was a medical student, an American diplomat who came to know and respect Dr. Nakamura during his work in Afghanistan, and women volunteers who have supported the association … Many people bade their final farewell.

10,000 members exceeded after 9/11

PMS currently has approximately 12,000 members and was formed in 1983. Due to the former Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan, more than 3 million Afghan refugees were evacuated in northern Pakistan. PMS has been providing medical assistance. From there, the activities evolved into irrigation and agricultural support in Afghanistan.
The PMS’s name suddenly became known after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. The U.S. military launched an airstrike sweep against the Afghan Taliban administration. Under such circumstances, Dr. Nakamura set up the Afghan Life Fund to provide food assistance to those facing food shortages. Severe drought continued, with the effects of climate change. His campaign to oppose the airstrikes and to protect Afghan vulnerables attracted much sympathy. The membership network centered on Kyushu expanded to all over Japan, surpassing 10,000 in 2002.
After the incident on December 4, last year, donations were raised one after another. Bank transfer was about 6,900 in December, and about 2,200 in January this year, almost double the pace of the past year. Remembrance gatherings and photo exhibitions are being held nationwide, including in Kyushu, Tokyo, and Kansai. Dr. Nakamura’s personality and achievements, and the passion of the citizens who supported them, are conveyed.
“We have decided to continue our business and take over Dr. Nakamura’s wishes,” said Dr. Yu Murakami, a chairman of PMS.
However, more than 18 years have passed since the interest in Afghanistan reached its peak after 9/11, and many members have become old. At the general assembly of the PMS, which was held prior to the farewell reception, some made mention of the PMS’s direction of a “Post-Nakamura era”.
A member said, “Members gathered in admiration of Dr. Nakamura’s leadership and ambitions. Let’s change the name to “Tetsu Nakamura Peshawar Association” so that we can move on together with him into the future. Some more people will join to carry on his will.”
Dr. Murakami replied, “Dr. Nakamura didn’t like only his name being used because he didn’t build the irrigation canal by himself. He preferred to keep his great doings anonymous.” Applause was heard from the venue, and the name maintenance was supported. After that, questions and answers continued on the guidance system and local business policies.

Younger generation’s participation

One good factor for the organization is the participation of the younger generation. Over the past few years, three persons in their twenties have joined the PMS secretariat as full-time staff. While doing office work, they continue to study Pashto, one of the official languages of Afghanistan, river engineering and envision working at the forefront in the future.
The youngest, Hayato Yamashita (24), graduated from Kurume University last spring and joined the secretariat. In a class, he listened to a lecture by a member of PMS and became interested in humanitarian assistance. “I always want to be involved in helping people like Dr. Nakamura who considered humanity and its culture over hundreds of years.”
Due to the local security situation, Japanese staff cannot easily enter Afghanistan. In early February, however, staff from Japan and Afghanistan gathered in India to discuss future policies including some young staff.
On the other hand, projects that are important for PMS move forward. PMS will summarize the accumulated technology and know-how of building irrigation canals and create guidelines. In addition to Japanese and English, it is also translated into local Pashto and Dari. It has been supported by JICA’s financial assistance and will be completed next spring. It will help the continuation of a wide range of projects, including irrigation, flood control and agricultural promotion, and the development of local human resources.
The sympathy for Dr. Nakamura is expanding in Afghanistan. According to local reports, a boy was born two days after the shooting and was named “Nakamura”. A father from eastern Afghanistan said that it was Dr. Nakamura that helped farmers suffering from the drought.
An NGO in Kabul, will soon publish a picture book describing Nakamura’s life in local languages. The title is Mr. Nakamura’s local nickname “Kakamurad”. Picture books are also distributed to kindergartens and schools in Afghanistan with the support of Japanese companies.
Dr. Nakamura’s aspirations and wishes for peace must be steadily handed down, inherited, and kept alive in Japan and Afghanistan. (Yukifumi Takeuchi)


昨年末にアフガニスタンで亡くなったNGO、ペシャワール会(本部:福岡市)の指導者、中村哲医師のお別れ会が1月25日、福岡市の西南学院大学チャペルで催された。同会幹部は「事業継続こそが遺志に応えることだ」と、今後も医療支援や用水路建設の協力を続けることを誓った。(本誌編集委員・竹内 幸史)






中村さんの志と平和への願いは日本でも、アフガンでも着実に語り継がれ、引き継がれ、生き続けていくに違いない。(竹内 幸史)


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