Approximately 30,000 children in Japan live in institutional care homes. Some are orphans, while others are the victims of parental neglect or abuse. The homes can only accommodate and care for these children until they reach the age of 18, after which they must essentially fend for themselves in the wider world.
Despite the best efforts of the dedicated care home staff, the life outcomes for these children are often poor. Few are able to attend university, some lapse into crime or prostitution, while others sometimes rush precipitously into bad relationships and quickly have children of their own for whom they are unable to care. These children may then end up in institutional care themselves, perpetuating a vicious circle.
Mirai no Mori is an entirely voluntary NPO that exists to help provide a few of these children with a better shot in life by equipping them with some extra life skills and coping ability. Mirai no Mori’s chief activity involves staging annual summer camps for selected children from these care homes, where they can engage in various outdoor physical activities, make new friends and learn some English in a pleasant and natural environment. As well as affording the children some release from their everyday stresses, this experience also gives them confidence, a sense of independence, and the opportunity to cultivate social skills. Crucially, the Mirai no Mori program is not confined to the camps alone. They also offer the children who attend camp on-going, long-term support, which will significantly increase the chances of more favorable outcomes in their lives.
At Honyaku Plus, we are in awe of the selfless dedication of the Mirai no Mori team and fully recognize the great social significance of the work that they are undertaking. We were happy to be able to support their efforts by providing them with pro bono translation services in early 2016, and in late May I participated in a four-day, 530-km sponsored cycle ride from Tokyo to Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture to raise money for their cause. This ride was under the auspices of Tokyo fundraising cyclists group, the Knights in White Lycra. Around 40 riders took part, all of whom completed the trip without major mishap.
As of mid-September 2016, the group has raised 9.7 million yen in donations for Mirai no Mori—money which will enable around 20 care home children to attend Mirai no Mori camps for three years in a row, and which will help fund the attendant support activities. I’m delighted to report that many fellow translators, Brits@Lunch networking compadres, and soccer teammates contributed most generously to my ride, enabling me to weigh in with around 600,000 yen towards the total pot.
Please visit Mirai no Mori for more information on their activities.