While I was traveling in Nepal, a villager said, "You are lucky being born in a wealthy country like Japan and you'll probably forget about us after going back to your country." That comment has weighted heavily on me for a long time.
I was working at a multi-national corporation at the time, and liked both the international work environment and the stable income. I was in the accounting department and dealt with a lot with different Asian countries. I had visited developing countries in Asia on vacation but the way I most often interacted with people from these countries was dealing with their work, from my comfortable office, through computer transactions involving yen in the tens and hundreds of millions. I saw how multi-national companies and globalization were affecting people's lives in these countries. As I became aware of the gap between our "rich" life and their life, I started thinking about inequality in the world. The experience of meeting people on my trip would become memories and those memories would fade away after going back to the busy routine, however; because I was becoming aware of the "North-South problem," what this Nepali villager said to me drew my attention towards the realities in the world.
It wasn't an easy decision, but I chose to leave my company seeking a different life. When I was 26, I quit my job and went to Nepal to study for a year. Some companies in Japan would ask women for a verbal agreement to quit in the event of marriage. My discontent towards similar conservative ideas in my company played a part in my decision to leave. Among the many NGO activists that I came across in Nepal, I was most interested in FEDO (Feminist Dalit Organization), an NGO that's working for the liberation of Dalit women.
After I came back from Nepal and joined AVC, FEDO became an AVC local partner. The more I learned about FEDO's liberation movement for Dalit women, the more I became aware of the problems in Japan concerning human rights and women issues. Using the Nepali society as a mirror, I was able to make out the situation in Japan more clearly. I have friends beyond borders that have the same goal as I do, which is to change the world. This is an asset and also a source of energy for my activities. I have realized that by learning from each other, we have created a grassroots feeling of solidarity. My interests are now in promoting the idea of "Globalization from below."
It is financially difficult to work at a NGO in Japan. My income is almost a half of what it was when I was working for my old company. In order to attract more NGO workers, it is necessary to deal with this financial obstacle. To accomplish this, we need to appeal to the public for support by showing the importance of our activities. Even though my financial situation isn't great, I am pleased with being able to bring out my hidden abilities and enrich my life by trying to solve different social problems.