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Ex-foster home resident founds group to support families struggling to raise kids in Japan

Kazuyuki Miyamoto, who established a nonprofit organization to support families raising children, is seen in Jonan Ward, Fukuoka, on April 7, 2021. (Mainichi/Emi Aoki)

FUKUOKA -- "I want to help children in the same situation I was in," Kazuyuki Miyamoto declared at the age of 21 when he took part in a speech contest offering scholarships to people from foster care facilities. Now aged 28, he has been true to his word, establishing a nonprofit organization in Fukuoka this spring to support families struggling to raise their children.

    He named the nonprofit body "OHS," an acronym for "One Happiness and Smile," with the hope that each and every person would be able to feel happiness in every event and live with a smile.

    Miyamoto is the second of three brothers. His father was violent only toward him, and sometimes left Miyamoto unattended when he went out. When he was in the first grade of elementary school, his mother left home.

    When he was admitted to a foster care facility, he was relieved to "finally be able to eat and sleep." However, he began to distrust adults and was always trying to read their faces. When he was 15, his father died of illness. Miyamoto dropped out of high school, and his everyday life began to lack order.

    One night when he was 17, he went to a chain restaurant and saw a 7-year-old girl, whom he knew from a child consultation center, eating alone. "My father is away at work," she told him. Miyamoto saw a little bit of himself in her, and it was as if he'd suddenly woken up. "I shouldn't let her feel so lonely," he thought.

    He attended a part-time high school while living with foster parents, and later went to a vocational school providing training for people to become certified as day care center workers. After graduation, he worked at a foster care facility.

    On his 18th birthday, his mother revealed in an email that she had given birth to him in the toilet, and had been unable to go for regular prenatal checkups because she was distressed by her husband's violence.

    He now thinks that his mother wanted someone to listen to her about parenting. "When adults laugh, children laugh, too," he said. "My hope is that more people will support households raising children."

    After the establishment of the NPO, Miyamoto vowed at the grave of his father, whom he had resented, "I'm not going to let the same kind of parents appear."

    (Japanese original by Emi Aoki, Kyushu News Department)

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