Why do you support Mirai no Mori? vol.1 with Rob Williams
Series #1 with Rob Williams, co-founder of Knights in White Lycra
As Mirai no Mori celebrates its 10th anniversary, we have been interviewing our supporters to share their voice and their reasons for continuing to support Mirai no Mori. These interviews are also a chance for us to look back on our journey so far and to look ahead to where we are going.
As our first guest, we invited Rob Williams to share his reasons for KIWL’s continuous support of Mirai no Mori. Rob Williams is a Senior Investment Adviser at AP Advisers Limited and, in 2013, he co-founded Knights in White Lycra (KIWL), a Japan-based group that fundraises for marginalized children through sporting events. His passion lies in cycling, and it is through such sport that he was able to connect with Mirai no Mori and the children we support. Rob is especially passionate about raising funds for children who are marginalized and are continuously being excluded from society. Mirai no Mori, as well as Rob and the KIWL team, share a vision to provide them with skills that they can take into life for better chances and a better future.
Please tell us about your passion.
Cycling is my life, apart from work and family! Even if KIWL didn’t exist, it would still be my hobby and my passion. The reason why KIWL came into existence is because of cycling. Now, I am fulfilled by seeing KIWL members who had never ridden before, train and actually complete a big challenge for a great cause. Some of our cyclists are novices, so to see them develop into people capable of riding 500km is great.
What are your criteria for choosing an NPO to support as KIWL?
Every year, KIWL chooses a charity to support throughout the year. First, they have to work with children. Second, they have to work with children in Japan. And third, we consider the circumstances of the children being supported. Are they from single-parent families, living in care homes, or from a disadvantaged background? How can we put them in a position of no disadvantage? As for the charity itself, we look at how long have they been working, and whether they are able to attract sponsors every year. We also consider organizational governance, and operational and fiscal transparency as well. As KIWL, we would like to support charities where we can see where the support goes.
How did you find Mirai no Mori?
After initially supporting those affected by the 2011 East Japan earthquake in Tohoku, we realized KIWL needed to find a long-term sustainable cause, and marginalized children were an obvious answer. It was in 2016 when we first came across Mirai no Mori. It was the very first children’s charity we found in Japan and they ticked all the boxes.
In what way do you relate with Mirai no Mori and its activities and what was it like experiencing Mirai no Mori programs first-hand?
The whole idea of Mirai no Mori is to try to support these children emotionally, and at the same time provide them with skills that they can take into adult life so they enhance their chances of success. Whatever type of skills they may acquire, they would have something extra to offer potential employers.
The reason why we’ve chosen Mirai no Mori is because they touch all three points; outdoors, marginalized children, and transparent governance.
Having met the children after the 500km ride, I realized that it takes time to really build an emotional connection with them and to gain their trust. I believe in Mirai no Mori’s approach on building trust with ongoing support, even after they graduate from care homes.
Also, diversity is more in the public conscience now. One of the unique characteristics of Mirai no Mori is the fact that the staff and volunteers are from various backgrounds. Mirai no Mori opens the children’s minds to global thinking.
On behalf of KIWL, a happy 10th birthday to Mirai no Mori! KIWL also celebrates its tenth birthday this year. We’re delighted to continue the relationship of building the lives of disadvantaged children.
At Mirai no Mori, we believe that there is great significance in children’s continued participation in our programs. In order to continue to provide a safe place for children to learn and grow, we need your continued support.
We invite you to join the Mirai no Mori community as a monthly supporter so that together we can continue to provide children with opportunities to gain life skills.
We look forward to you joining us as a monthly supporter so that we can continue to help as many children as possible to grow happily, fruitfully, and independently.