Nationality

Japan

Education

Master’s Degree in Asian Studies, East-West Center Scholar, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Public Relations, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Languages

Japanese, French, English

I believe in facing the world one frontline at a time. My career at the United Nations has seen me posted in the United States, Croatia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Switzerland and Haiti.

I was born in Osaka, Japan, but grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where my family moved when I was two years old. At university I saw Mrs. Sadako Ogata speak when she was High Commissioner for Refugees. She inspired and drew me to the Organization. My father had worked in El Salvador as a volunteer when he was a young man. His sense of service and the personal reward from the experience were strong influences on my choice of career.

I joined the United Nations through the National Competitive Recruitment Examination in public information, which I took in 1992. At the United Nations, I have worn several hats, from being an Electoral Observer in the Central African Republic to a Civil Affairs Officer in Croatia. I have worked with teams from the Yearbook Section and the News and Media Division of the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Executive Office of DPI, the Situation Centre, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Today, I am a Human Rights Officer. I am usually based in Geneva and work in the Peace Missions Support/Rapid Response section of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of OHCHR. I head the Humanitarian Action Unit, which works to make human rights a part of operational responses to humanitarian crises.

Haiti is home to me now. I am part of the surge deployment team here, following the 12 January earthquake, which supports the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) response to the current crisis.

A typical day for me starts at 7 a.m. when I leave my house. The human rights team here leads the protection cluster – which addresses protection concerns, both from the law and order point of view as well as helping to ensure that the aid gets to those who need it most. It can be a lot of meetings, but one Sunday, for example, we drove out to a food distribution site, to talk to people and see how it was going. Who was not getting food and why? So many buildings have been destroyed, and there is so much fear of aftershocks, that some of us sleep in our offices or have tents pitched at the HQ. Others go home but sleep outside in tents. We work in prefabricated containers, nestled under mango trees. We are always yelling, because of the constant roar of helicopters and airplanes coming in and out. Immediately after the earthquake, the offices hosted more than 1200 non-governmental organizations, most of which worked out of the MINUSTAH logistical base.

What inspires me every day at the United Nations is the thought that a full day’s work hopefully translates into an improved life for others. I do not think I could do it day-in-day-out if it were for a better bottom line.

Coming to Haiti was a challenge. The United Nations has been traumatized here, as much as the host population. Like many other colleagues, I also lost friends here. But it is inspiring to see everyone pulling together and helping one another out. Nearly every day I run into an old friend that I have not seen since my Croatia or Congo days, and who has volunteered to be a part of this effort. We all watch out for each other.

The United Nations is a big organization, but at the same time it is a proper community of friends and colleagues. In Hawaii, where I come from, we use the word ‘Ohana,’ which means family. It is the idea that we are all responsible for one another and should help each other when and where we can. I try to live the spirit of Ohana with my United Nations family.

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