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House Supporter interview
Takuya Kawamoto is a senior at Sophia University. With graduation in sight, the day he steps down as the leader and the founder of his Campus Chapter (CC) is fast approaching. For three years, Takuya led his team in their efforts to realize "a world where everyone has a decent place to live." To Takuya, this end of an era is not the end of his relationship with Habitat for Humanity. Rather, he is determined to continue lead towards the world where everyone has a decent place to live in the working world.
Acting on his commitment and determination, he became a House Supporter - a long-lasting way to support HFH Japan's mission.
We interviewed Takuya to find out what he has felt, learnt and hoped to pass on to the next leaders at Sophia University. He also shared with us his plans for the future.
What is your relationship with Habitat for Humanity?
It goes way back to my high school days. I joined Habitat Club and went on my first Global Village trip when I was a 11th grader. The experience really touched me - when I found out that Sophia University didn't have a CC, I had no hesitation in starting one myself.
In March 2011, four of my friends and I got together and established our CC. We have been participating in GVs in countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines ever since. The CC doesn't just concern itself with issues abroad - we volunteer in Tohoku and clean neighborhoods around the university. Giving back to our community is important to us.
What did you learn as a CC leader?
There are three things that I learnt:
1. Management skills
It was nothing but easy starting an organization from scratch. In fact, I devoted all my time establishing and running the CC - no part-time job, no internship, just CC. The soft part of establishing an organization, like creating unique CC culture, values and identity, especially took time. Another challenge was to keep the members motivated. The past four years were definitely testing, but I learnt to never give up in the face of adversity - that I should always listen to people around me and stick with my friends.
The biggest challenge for me as a CC leader was to make GVs happen. I was the only member who had gone on GVs, and convincing other members to join in was extremely difficult. In the beginning, I would be turned down either by the fellow members or their parents so often that it really brought me down. It was hard, but I never gave up because I knew giving up would mean the end of the CC. I continued talking with members and their parents, and, in the end, had ten members sign up for the GV in Malaysia to build a house with the home partner family. It was extremely rewarding. This experience taught me the power of passion.
3. Habitat for Humanity in Japan
Since I went to an international school, everyone I met during my school years new Habitat for Humanity. That's why it was so shocking for me to find out there was no CC at Sophia University. I eventually realized that not all Japanese people knew about Habitat unlike the international community I was accustomed to. I believe that this situation can be changed when more and more universities establish CCs and students across the country work together.
Why did you decide to become a House Supporter?
I am determined to continue my involvement with HFH Japan after graduation. On top of supporting CCs, I would like to play a role in spreading Habitat's message in Japanese society so more people recognize the work of Habitat and the significance of the poverty housing issues. By becoming a House Supporter, I am hoping to show CC graduates one of the ways to stay involved in the cause and keep supporting the mission.
Any message to students around the world?
"I am so lucky to be living in Japan" - a lot of GV first-timers feel like this after their trip, and I was certainly one of them. I was fortunate enough to go on four GV trips and the feeling got stronger every time. The feeling of appreciation became passion, and the passion led to action. I devoted so much to establish and run the CC, and it gave me so many things in return. Being a CC member is not just being a volunteer. See yourself grow and make life-long friends at CC!
Thank you so much, Takuya.
We look forward to continue working with you towards a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Become a House Supporter today!