Resolution to establish a NPO to realize a better world

The determination of a 23 year old to make the world a better place

Kanta Hara from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Hara with refugees in South Sudan (2017)

Kanta Hara, a 23 year old student from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, is determined to realize an equal world in which everyone has the rights to determine their own fate and possess basics human rights including having an adequate standard of living. When he was a freshman at Waseda University, he participated in a study trip to Philippines to learn about people living in densely populated and uninhabitable slums. That was when he met women in poverty begging on the streets. The study trip filled him with rage and sadness. Since then, he has become an activist to challenge the unreasonable status quo by making use of social media and news media, and even publishing his own book to create awareness on the issue. His resolution only grew stronger each day and in May 2017, Hara became the founder of a non-government organization (NGO) named Confront World, in which he organizes international cooperation activities to provide refugee relief assistance to countries such as South Sudan in Africa. He currently plans to further his involvement in international cooperation activities by converting Confront World into a non-profit organization (NPO). For a university student in Japan, the decision not to work for a company or organization but set up his own is uncommon, let alone setting up a NPO. To find out more about Hara’s resolution, online magazine Waseda Weekly conducted an interview with this young man.

Reasons for establishing Confront World

Even before setting up a Confront World in May earlier this year, Hara already initiated a student non-government organization (NGO) in 2014 where he planned and provided aids to children living in poverty in Bangladesh. Two years later in 2016, he received assistance from one of the NPOs in Kyoto named Terra Renaissance to reach out to and conduct interview with Uganda civil war victims who were previously girl soldiers. After which, Hara became an intern of Terra Renaissance where he was involved in providing social rehabilitation aids to former child soldiers and conducting needs assessment with South Sudan refugees over a period of two months. In his volunteering work, Hara saw many devastating scenes and met many uncared orphans. Some of these children have even witnessed their parents’ death in gun violence.

These experiences made Hara think about two things. Firstly, it made him consider the kind of world he hopes to create before stepping into society. Secondly, it made him wonder if furthering his studies at graduate school or working for a company over the next few years after graduation is forgivable, given that that would mean to ignore the people who are currently suffering, and the countless more number of misfortune and absurdities that are going to take place in this period of time. Hara’s contemplation eventually led him to an answer, which is to convert existing NGO Confront World into a NPO where he would continue to provide assistance to those in need.

Anxieties of the 23 year old 

(from left) Kanta Hara, Shingo Ogawa (chief director of Terra Renaissance) & Masahara Saito (staff of Confront World)

Hara speaks of his fear when he first considered establishing a NGO. He wondered if he will be able to recruit like-minded people with similar passion. To Hara’s surprise, many volunteers who were once involved in international cooperation activities, official development assistance (ODA) and NGOs have contacted him in hope to work with him. Some of his friends who have already graduated and are working adults have also expressed their interests in providing assistance. While the number is still growing, Hara has currently recruited five staff and 16 student staff. Aside from recruiting staff, it was not easy for the 23 year old with little experience in running an organization to undertake projects in local communities overseas. Fortunately, Hara was able to utilize connections he made with people at Terra Renaissance he once did his internship with, and obtain valuable information necessary for operating overseas projects.

Making a living out of international cooperation activities

Hara interviewing former Uganda girl soldier (woman in the forefront)

At present, all staff at Confront World are merely volunteers. Hara decides that he would be the first regular staff and take on the managerial role to run Confront World after he graduates in March 2018. Hara pointed out that many people in Japan have the misconception that international cooperation organizations and NPOs are nothing but volunteers. As such, many Japanese are not aware that it is possible to work for these organizations while receiving incomes as regular staff. Hara thought that it is a waste because there are many who, despite having strong passion for international cooperation activities, stop committing themselves after joining companies that serve different purposes.

One of the reasons why these misconceptions exist is due to a lack of information in Japanese. Hara hence decided to raise awareness through the use of social networking services (SNS) and blogs, and by conducting talks in various occasions. Urging new passionate graduates to consider joining international cooperation organizations, Hara wants to stress that there are many ways of getting revenues for NPOs in today’s generation, and that it is definitely probable to earn a living by working in such organizations.

Sustaining an international cooperation organization

Woman and her child at the refugee district in South Sudan

It is not possible to sustain NPOs by merely receiving donations and membership fees. Neither is it possible to broaden the scopes of activities without undertaking projects. Hara, however, has a solid plan to achieving a sustainable Confront World. He proposes to collect revenues through seven major channels and six of them will be through publishing books, writing blogs, issuing paid magazines, giving talks, providing consultation services and regular revenue (e.g. donations and membership fees) of Confront World. As for the seventh channel of revenue, he says he is still in the midst of working on it. While the revenue coming from each channel might vary from time to time, Hara strongly believes it is possible to earn a stable, regular income.

The most important quality in running a NPO

Hara believes the most essential quality in running or working for a NPO is the ability to effectively disseminate information. Many people in Japan do not seem to believe in the potential of students. However, there are in fact many students who are involved in projects and activities that are beneficial to the society. Nevertheless, without the ability to effectively disseminate information, they would be not known by the society at large, let alone be recognized or acknowledged by them. On the contrary, if one is skilled at using tools for information dissemination such as SNS, sometimes the person might even be able to reach out to renowned and famous people from around the world. Unfortunately, Hara thinks that at present, there are few who posse this skill especially in the field of international cooperation activities.

Hara on his education at Waseda University

Hara with children living in the slum district when he visited Philippine on a study trip

Soon to be graduating in March next year, the 23 year old student from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences thinks that the classes and school curriculum at Waseda University certainly have given him the basic knowledge he needed in running Confront World. He recalls having the flexibilities to sign up for classes such as peace studies and global leaderships outside his major. Additionally, he also remarked that if he had not come to Waseda, he probably would not have been so active in international cooperation activities.

However, he is quick to note that the education system at Waseda is designed in a way such that if students choose not to be proactive in their learning, they could still end up graduating without too much problems, but possibly also without much achievement. Even so, it is still possible to land on highly regarded jobs in Japan due to the society’s tendency to give more credits to students who graduated from prestigious universities instead of to their individual achievements. As such, Hara urges Waseda students to be responsible with their learning and seize every possible opportunity.

 

DSC_0013Profile
Born in Kanagawa prefecture to the south of Tokyo, Kanta Hara is the current representative of Confront World. Aside from being extremely devoted to international cooperation activities, Hara was also serious with his studies and did a one year student exchange program at California State University. Even as a student, he is an activist in building a better society for everyone and has since been publishing books, writing blogs and giving talks to raise awareness on international cooperation activities.

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*All photos are provided by Kanta Hara

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