『Don’t Let It End Up Being A Dream From The Beginning』
What is your dream for the future? What would you say if someone asked you?
I asked a boy in a volunteer class. The boy answered with a smile, "I want to be a doctor.
My dream is to work in international cooperation to develop education in developing countries. I want to not only improve the literacy rate and the environment for children to attend school, but also to build a world where children do not give up on their dreams because access to education is difficult.
Why do I have this dream? When I was in the sixth grade of elementary school, I visited Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and talked to a local dispatcher about slums in Laos. There was a girl who lived in the slum and could go to school but could only attend school a few times a month due to financial problems. The girl loved to study and dreamed of becoming an engineer, so she studied at home every day. Her house was small and there was no desk to study at, so she worked hard on the bricks outside her house that were on the verge of collapse. Even though I was only 12 years old at the time and had no idea about international cooperation, I wanted to fly out to Laos to do something to help right away. At that time, the slum where the girls lived was forcibly cleared by the government. There was no school nearby, so she had to help out at home to make ends meet. In the end, she grew up without being able to go to school and had a child without being able to break the cycle of poverty and realize her dreams. This story made me realize that there must be countless children in the same situation as the girl, and I became interested in poverty and educational issues. I found this dream through participating in many study tours and volunteer activities over the next five years.
In the world today, approximately 264 million children and young people are out of school, and 160 million children are engaged in child labor.
If they do not have access to adequate education, they are hampered by a lack of minimum learning in everyday life, such as reading, writing, and calculating. It is estimated that there are about 773 million people worldwide who are illiterate, most of whom do not go to school. For instance, it is quite possible that a person may not be able to read a warning about the danger of landmines, and may end up entering an area where there are no landmines. Naturally, they cannot read books or write letters, and if they cannot do math, they often cannot get a job.
Also, many of us have probably heard the phrase "poverty is a chain". Intergenerational poverty is a global problem. There are various reasons for the intergenerational chain of poverty, but lack of education is said to be one of the causes. Parents who do not have enough money and do not know the importance of education will not send their children to school and use them as labor. Uneducated children, like their parents, grow up not knowing the importance of education. Since they cannot gain knowledge and skills, they can only work in unstable, low-paying jobs. Eventually, when they become parents, they are unable to earn money for their own children's education and remain unaware of the need to provide education. Thus, poverty is often cascaded and fixed from generation to generation.
The lack of education has many other effects, but as the SDGs state, "no one is left behind," we must ensure that all people, regardless of nationality, culture, or religion, can escape poverty and break the cycle, and that our children's dreams do not end with their dreams. We must not let it end with the statement, "We have nothing to do with it. The issues of education and poverty involve everyone, and I want to prevent the future of our children from being a dream from the very beginning.
Japanese people take education for granted. Some of my friends say that they are forced to receive education. However, everyone should know that being able to go to school every day is not something to be taken for granted. For this reason, it is easy for us students to participate in educational development organizations like this volunteer program. Also, anyone can spread the word through social networking sites if they have the motivation to do so.
Being able to participate in this volunteer activity was an opportunity for me to take a step forward toward my dream. It is true that there are people who say, "I don't know what I want to do or what my dream is yet," even those who are well educated. Nevertheless, even if you do not have a dream now, you need to be prepared to fulfill it when you find it as you grow up. I will continue to devote myself to making my dreams come true. I also hope that many people will focus their attention on education and poverty issues so that the next generation of children will not let their dreams end as dreams.