11 Dec 2017
Kanna Mihara, a Vice President in Macquarie’s Tokyo office, knows how hard it can be to overcome economic disadvantage and wants to share her experience with students facing the same challenges. In fact, the OECD recently estimated that one in six kids in Japan is from households classed as experiencing relative poverty.
“When I was young, I didn’t have anyone who could guide me on how to get into a good university or get a good job. Coming from a lower-income family, I went to a government school and didn’t have access to high quality after-school education,” says Kanna.
Kanna worked hard and was fortunate to secure a job in the finance industry. “But not many people can overcome this barrier, so I would like to share my experience with students in the hope that it will encourage others to believe that they can do it too.”
When the Community Advisory Committee in Macquarie’s Tokyo office was deciding where to focus its efforts this year, Kanna suggested mentoring students at the Kids’ Door.
Kids’ Door was founded in 2007, providing students between the ages of 13-15 years old with free after-school tutoring. As well as education support, Kids’ Door provides a safe place for kids to spend time after school, a meal and access to adult mentors who act as positive role models.
At some of their centres students are also able to practice their English speaking skills. This is increasingly important for entry into colleges in Japan, but can be difficult for kids from low-income families to access. The Kids’ Door aims to close this gap by providing regular opportunities to learn and practice speaking English.
A team of committed volunteers runs the Kids’ Door like a family home. “Upon our first visit, our staff members were touched by how warm and family-like the atmosphere was at Kids’ Door,” says Kanna.
“Now the students remember us from our earlier visits, and there is a nice feeling of getting to know each other every time we visit.”
Kanna and staff at Macquarie Tokyo’s office plan to continue visiting the students every couple of months as well as organise fundraising activities to support the work of the Kids’ Door.
Image caption: Macquarie staff members pictured with kids from the after-school care program