Volunteer interview No. 4: Jun Ota
Interview Relay number features Jun Ota who volunteers as a delivery driver with us twice a week on Wednesday and Friday. Kanoko Uegaki conducted this interview and asked Mr. Ota about both his volunteer activities and the circumstances that led up to him volunteering at 2HJ.
Q: Please tell me a little about why you decided to volunteer with 2HJ.
A: I first learned about Second Harvest Japan’s activities from the Television program “Gaia no Yoake” which aired about 3 years ago. I was at first surprised, then moved to learn that there was an organization out there which was giving new life to food that would otherwise be wasted and using that food to bring smiles to the faces of those in need. I immediately contacted 2HJ and came in to volunteer. At first I had to take a paid vacation day every time I wanted to volunteer, so I wasn’t able to come very often.
Q: What sort of activities do you participate in as a volunteer with 2HJ?
A: I first volunteered 3 years ago, but I began volunteering regularly at the beginning of this year. Twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays I pick up food and deliver that food to welfare agencies. Volunteer drivers are able to see the whole food banking process from beginning, when we pick up food, to the end when we distribute that food to other agencies. Therefore, it is very easy to see the value of what we are doing, while at the same time we get to have fun interacting with many different people. I have to admit though that because up to that point I had never performed any real manual labor, it took a little bit of getting used to.
Q: What was your impression of the welfare agencies that you deliver to?
A: Delivering to the agencies is really fun! We deliver not only to children’s home and orphanages, but also to homeless support agencies, support centers for those with disabilities, single mother support centers ect… Both the people at the agencies and the employees of each agency give a gentle and yet passionate impression, and I learn so much from them.
On the other hand, when I pick up food from supermarkets and manufactures
I go as the representative of both 2HJ and the agencies that 2HJ support, so I have to be very conscious of each the needs and demands of each party.
Q: What have you found interested about volunteering with 2HJ?
A: I started to volunteer due to the frustration that I felt at the social unbalance which allowed food to go to waste while so many people were in need.
I continue to feel strongly about this injustice, but now I feel a stronger sense of fulfillment knowing that I am helping to ease this societal imbalance and am acting as the channel between the happiness of others and my own happiness.
I think that this sort of feeling tends to be forgotten as time passes, so I want to make sure that I continue to be conscious of the meaning and value of the work that I am doing.