KIWL 2019 Bike Ride team
Someone once asked, "why do you do what you do with the children's homes in Japan" and we replied, "What if we didn't?
Sometimes when something is the right thing to do, you just do it."
We had the incredible chance of meeting KIWL in 2017 when YouMeWe was applying for NPO status and kept in touch throughout the setup and launch in 2018. We then received the life-changing news that they had decided to sponsor us as their chosen charity in 2019.
Getting fit and giving back can hardly capture the friends and family members we have all come to meet. The walk around the Palace where companies joined and co-workers ran as teams or family members walked with strollers and even some of the Japanese who had never walked around the Imperial Palace joined for the first time in their lives.
The pub quizzes and gatherings which was a great break from the hustle and bustle of life in Tokyo. The many months of planning and details that went into the KIWL 2019 Bike Ride were amazing. The seriousness and professionalism that went into the meticulous planning with the overall concern of everyone's safety was amazing to witness.
Then came the first day of the ride. It was quiet arriving at the hotel on the evening before the start...not many signs of what was to come over the following days and 500 kilometers aside from a few bags which had been couriered ahead of time or a bike in the lobby. By evening the hotel restaurant made pub was alive with welcoming handshakes and laughter before everyone headed to sleep for day one.
Then it all began.
Starting in Takasaki on a beautiful morning with a team photo and then four days of incredible Japanese landscape and beauty you wanted to just stop and stay in so many places along the way. The teams, the repairs, the GPS tracking and the brownies for recharging.
All the while the children at Fukushima Aiikuen waiting at the end of the 4 day ride and knowing the some of the people joining them on the last day had possibly never been to Fukushima and the wanted to make them feel as welcomed as possible. Studying about all the countries represented by the riders, their flag, their customs.
When we ask ourselves, what if we didn't meet KIWL and have their support in 2019? With almost 15,000,000 JPY raised offline and online. Another 100 computers have been given out in Iwate, Sendai, Fukushima, Tokyo, Saitama and Nagoya. Rooms filled with children coding for the first time or being taught Excel art by the Elderly. 9 year old kids presenting AI ideas to executives at Microsoft and preparing to present to 1,600 people in January 2020. Drones, robots and Sphero balls being programmed and coming alive by adults teaching kids and kids teaching kids. Weekly language classes using NightZooKeeper and connecting with kids in other countries. Financial Literacy training and career assessment tests to help them navigate their path forward. 600 children in over 16 homes reminded that their lives matter and we are not giving as much as we are investing in their futures.