Miki Takahashi

When I was 9 years old, I entered a child protection facility due to poverty and parental abuse. My case was somewhat unusual because I chose to move to a child protection facility on my own. The facility was a heavenly place where I was able to receive food, shelter and clothes.
I was fond of the life in the facility where the living standard was much higher than that of my own home. However, there also was a negative side to living in congregate care. Children were often loud and there were many rules to follow. I disapproved of staff who decided what’s good for children instead of listening to them carefully. Some staff members changed children’s living arrangements without asking them first. Many staff did not have enough time to talk with me when I needed guidance or just an adult who would listen to me. My dream is to change the system so that foster children’s opinions are included in policies and to make their lives better.
I have lived in Tokyo all my life, but am now living and going to college in Shizuoka Prefecture where I knew no one. I chose to move to Shizuoka because of the college tuition and living cost. Honestly speaking, my current living circumstances are very hard. I have to work to earn enough money for my college tuition and living cost. I don’t have anyone to talk to when I am in difficult situations. My home town is Tokyo. However, I don’t have anyone to go home to in Tokyo anymore. After I left the facility that I was living in, I got to know that there was an option of receiving services for extended foster care. Information on college scholarship vary depending on the facility where youth lives. If I had known this information that I did not receive at my facility, my current life could have been better. Looking back, I do think that my experience of living in a facility added something positive to my whole life. I am a stronger person because of my past.