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I am Maiko Ohnishi, the funder of Global Bridge Network (GBN) started in June 2016.
Let me introduce myself and express my passion about why I started GBN
During my undergraduate studies in 1997, I joined an international volunteer program in Nepal as a manual labor to build a primary school in a small village. Living there was challenging, as there was no tap water, electricity or bathrooms. However, the people of the village always helped each other, and I was truly impressed by their great hospitality. I grew up in an advanced country like Japan and had never worried about my basic needs. However, I always felt emptiness with somehow poor interpersonal relations. Then I learned great lessons from their community reliance which helped me to heal myself at that time.
There was one particular incident that occurred during the volunteer which I cannot forget. A young child was burned severely, and his mother brought him to me and asked for money to take him to the hospital. Because I was a student with limited pocket, I could not give her money, and I felt so helpless. This incident made me realize that a major problem in poor areas is lack of access to adequate healthcare and social welfare systems. This awareness made me have more desire to find how to facilitate the needed tools to improve the condition of people’s lives.
Although I was desiring to work in the field of international development after graduation, I had no opportunity to engage in such a field due to my limited professional experience. Then, I worked in IT as a system engineer for a few years but I couldn’t give up my interest. I finally resigned from IT job and relocated to the United States for participation in an internship program in 2003, working as a research assistant at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC., I also earned a Master’s degree in International Policy Studies from Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in California in 2008, specializing in International Development. After my master program, I had finally worked for Japanese Non-governmental organizations and engaged in several international programs in Middle east, Myanmar, Vietnam, Iraq, and Mongolia etc.
Despite of so many years I took to reach this field, I was not satisfied with what I was doing. I felt there is a huge gap between my work and what I desired to do. I struggled myself by considering whether my involved works really meet the local people’s needs or not.
During the time when I was in Uganda in 2015, I found a huge challenge of adolescent school girls who face difficulties to go to school due to their menstruation. I felt there is a huge need to support, which motivated me to address this issue. I believe the local people/partners who can truly understand community/people’s needs. Thus, I thought it to be so effective to work with a local partner to reach and meet their needs. Fortunately, I was so lucky to have a great local partner, SORAK to work with us. Therefore, in order to build a cooperative relationship and legitimize all activities as a legal organization, Global Bridge Network was registered as a non-governmental organization in Japan in 2016.
GBN would like to build a WIN-WIN situation through equal relationship and want to get into the wide range of fields such as children’s education, protection and social business as well as expand more different areas not only in Africa, but also in any other countries. GBN wants to be a bridge between people all over the world to help mutual relationship.
I really enjoy interacting with people through GBN and appreciate all your support and cooperation!