Lecture on aid to Cambodia held at high school in Kagoshima: “We can make difference”

PUBLISHED Jul 12, 2021

Miyate Megumi giving a lecture

On July 11, Miyate Megumi, the representative of the NPO Hachidori Project, which is involved in support activities in Cambodia, gave a workshop on the SDGs and a lecture on their activities over the past 10 years at Kagoshima Junshin Girls’ High School. The event was organized by the the school and school’s social club.

Miyate was born in Muroran City, Hokkaido. As an international tour operator and a backpacker, she used to travel around the world. While traveling, she made a decision to start her international aid work with her personal motto, “Although what I can do may be limited, I can still make a difference.” February 2012, she raised funds to establish an elementary school in a village in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. The previous school in the village was burned down during the civil war, and many of the villagers were unable to read or write. Miyate focuses on providing educational support to people. She believes that if people cannot read and write, they have difficulty learning and that the root cause of poverty is lack of access to education.

Although the school was built, she encountered another problem — the “village exodus.” More than 90% of the villagers are rice farmers. As it is difficult for them to make a living on growing rice alone, many villagers migrate to Thailand, with their children, as seasonal workers during the off-farming season from November to May. During this time, children cannot receive an education. “I realized that just building a school is not enough. I found myself involved in employment support and environmental conservation,” said Miyate. The realization led her to take on projects such as the production of environmentally-friendly paper using Cambodian cotton and well water and soap-making workshops.

In her lecture, Miyate described the challenges she faced and the change in the sales routes that she had to make due to the coronavirus pandemic. She told the audience that with the ideas of SDGs and fair trade, she has been seeking ways to promote their products in Japan as well as in Europe and other countries that have a strong interest in fair trade. She also advised the students that when choosing a company to work for, they should not only consider the working conditions but also look into the social contribution of the company from the perspective of the SDGs.

Miyate will return to Cambodia in October to resume her activities. The NPO is inviting new members to join to support the Cambodian village. Membership types include Hachidori Villagers (from 1,000 yen per month), Hachidori Members (3,000 yen per year), and Student Members (1,000 yen per year).