The invincible compass

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If you have ever believed in my passion at all and my dedication to supporting the care and growth of all children, then please read on.

Calling all MATT MILLER supporters!

Calling all KEEN FOOTWEAR supporters!

Calling all MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS supporters!

Calling all CHILDREN DESERVE LOVE & CARE supporters!

Calling all DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/CHILD ABUSE awareness advocates!

Calling all ABANDONED & ORPHANED CHILDREN supporters!

We NEED YOUR SUPPORT & YOUR VOICE to be heard!

If you believe in any of the above statements, then you can do TWO VERY IMPORTANT things to PUSH FORWARD CHANGE!

Myself, along with the support of KEEN Footwear, and the support of countless others,

are launching a global Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in less than 24 hours!

We launch at NOON on Sunday, July 21st Japan Standard Time.

Japan- 12:00 PM SUNDAY

Melbourne- 1:00 PM SUNDAY

Honolulu- 5:00 PM SATURDAY

Los Angeles- 8:00 PM SATURDAY

Salt Lake- 9:00 PM SATURDAY

Chicago- 10:00 PM SATURDAY

New York- 11:00 PM SATURDAY

London- 4:00 AM SUNDAY

Paris- 5:00 AM SUNDAY

Dubai- 7:00 AM SUNDAY

We need your help with 2 IMPORTANT THINGS:

1. donate $5 or more (The first 72hrs are about numbers, not necessarily money)

2. Please share this with people who you believe also want to push the conversation forth and ask them to donate $5 or more.

If you feel inspired to do more than 2 things, then:

3. like us on social media

FB: @my.invincible.compass

IG: @my.invincible.compass

Twitter: @my_invincible

Here is the link to the Kickstarter. It is not visible until tomorrow: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thethingswecarry/the-invincible-compass

You can watch a quick 1 min. Trailer preview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Snjxdbvms_Y&feature=youtu.be

You can watch an in-depth 8min. preview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pHy0UQCpro&feature=youtu.be

We were given access in ways no film in Japan has come close to on our topic and we are about to bring into the world the first…

1. We will be the first feature length film to talk about mental health awareness and rights for children living in institutional care in Japan

2. We will be the first feature length documentary to showcase “the outdoors” as therapy for children living in institutional care in Japan

3. We will be the first feature length documentary to not only discuss but show a rare look into the lives of children living in institutional care in Japan and what they do and don't have.

4. We will be the first feature length film to show the reality of what happens when youth age out of the system at 18 years old in Japan

5. We will be the first full-length feature to follow someone from life inside institutional care all the way through to living life on their own and what it looks like from both sides.

This is the biggest ask I have ever made to any of you and it’s a real ask that will make a real difference in the lives of thousands of children here in Japan. Please consider supporting us.

love,

Matt

Colt Charity Bike Ride 2019

The 8th annual Colt Charity Bike Ride is set to take off later this year. The Colt Corporate Social Responsibility team will aim to ride from Munich to Vienna and will donate all their earnings to disadvantaged children. In total they have raised €1,000,000 for charities spanning 16 different countries. They have partnered with YouMeWe in order to continue helping give children living in Japanese orphanages a greater access to education and a bright future.

In addition to the bike ride, Colt has set up a GoGetFunding page that is dedicated to YouMeWe. Their support has had a tremendous impact on YouMeWe and has allowed us to expand our efforts to help as many homes as possible across Japan.

To contribute to the cause you can follow this link to the CSR team’s GoGetFunding page: https://gogetfunding.com/COLT-CSR-YouMeWe-CharityDonation/?fbclid=IwAR3U6jRdhz0AdoMFPFiR8DKF7SknFuqHYiJ7cpXm964vV226y5l0FAyYMGw

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New Summer Intern, Anna Tassia

Anna Tassia is a third year student at the University of Oregon, and a Human Physiology major and Italian minor. She has worked for Albertina Kerr’s Children’s Developmental Health Services Clinic for two years in Portland, Oregon, and for Eugene, Oregon’s BEST afterschool program for one year. She hopes to go into pediatric nursing, and is thrilled to continue working with children through YouMeWe while exploring Tokyo this summer.

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New Summer Intern, Trenten Heiser

Trenten Heiser is a Junior at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, where he is majoring in Sports Management. In his free time, he enjoys staying active by playing sports, especially basketball, and volunteering at a local Feed My Starving Children branch. One day he hopes to be able to combine his passion for sports and helping people to create an NPO of his own. He has never been to Tokyo before, but this is not the first time he has done international volunteer work. In 2015, he went to Guadalajara, Mexico to mentor kids living in an orphanage and it inspired him to travel to different places in the world to help more people. He is very grateful to have the opportunity to intern at YouMeWe this summer and is excited to experience the rich culture that Japan has to offer.

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Thank you very much

A massive thank you to the donor company (who wishes to remain anonymous) for their extremely generous donation of 70 MacBooks for the homes. We will be upgrading the kids in Tohoku and Tokyo who have mastered PCs and been wanting to learn more about the abilities of the MAC. Every year we have a field trip to the Apple Store and now more and more of the kids will be able to continue to use the skills they learned about presentation making, movies and making music.

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KIWL 2019 Bike Crew

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Seeing is believing. We were lucky enough not only to be sponsored by this wonderful group of people but by their friends, family and companies.

This was the morning of the kick off. I, as a support driver, had already been lost and it was within 1 km of the first hotel in Takasaki. The weather was wonderful and it was the great beginning for what ended up being an eventful and spectacular ride over 4 days and 500 km of stunningly beautiful Japanese countryside. Some places where you just wanted to stop and stare forever.

On the fourth day, when we reached the home in Fukushima, the children had been preparing for weeks to cut out and make flags of the different countries represented by the riders. As they knew, that for many, it would be the first time they had visited Fukushima and wanted to them to feel welcome.

They also spent those weeks online researching about the countries which they visited online as members of the Digital Citizenship club at Fukushima Aiikuen. This home is over 126 years old and was started by a woman in 1893 whose bronze statue is at the base of the climb to the home.

The climb was not an easy one, certainly not for the dozens of riders who had come to the end of the 500km ride. Knowing the children were waiting at the top, everyone mustered every last bit of energy to keep pedaling passed the cheering staff and children and high fiving every little hand that was out-stretched.

The children at Fukushima Aiikuen range from 2-18 years old. Over the years donors have bought them needed vans, installed geiger counter permanent stations and portable devices to measure hot spots after the rain.

We were then lead into the gymnasium where the certificates of appreciation had handwritten thank you notes attached by the kids who made them on the laser cutter printer. Presentations and quizzes were done on each country of each rider. A slide show of the courses funded by KIWL in Tohoku and Tokyo as well as footage from the rider was shown followed by a song by the Echo-sensei Hasegawa-sensei.

YouMeWe volunteers Gerhard, Victor, Mayuko and Juna (including Hide who rode on our behalf) were there for when we gave the speech to thank everyone for everything they have done to help us and continue to support us in our journey which was once just a thought.

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On Giving
 Kahlil Gibran

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space….

…It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother…

Thank you Ivan Doherty and Jonathan Smith of Premier Farnell for these coding watches for the kids

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What is micro:bit?

The micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that you can code, customise and control to bring your digital ideas, games and apps to life. Each element is completely programmable via easy-to-use software on a dedicated website (www.microbit.org) that can be accessed from a PC, tablet, or mobile.

It’s super easy to use, and ready to get started out-of-the-box, with a choice of coding editors for all abilities available in multiple languages. The extensive wireless and sensor features mean the micro:bit can be used across the school, including subjects such as science, design, maths, music, art and computing.

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Summer Intern Isabella Jackson

Isabella Jackson is a third year student studying sociology and pre-law at the University of Texas. She is passionate about helping others, and plans on attending law school once she graduates to pursue a career in Humans Rights law. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Isabella has worked with other nonprofits in the past that help women and children affected by domestic violence or sexual assault. She is spending her summer here in Tokyo working with YouMeWe and cannot wait to help make an impact on the lives of these children.

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Summer Intern Sarah Nicholl

Sarah Nicholl is a senior at the University of Kansas where she is majoring in accounting. When she is not at school in Kansas she calls Las Vegas, NV home. She has always had a passion for helping people and working with NPOs. Someday she hopes to work in a finance role at a NPO and working with YouMeWe will be a great introduction to this! She loves the mission of YouMeWe and the passion she has seen in everyone working here. 

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Summer Intern Flavia Reina

Flavia Reina, is a first year, and first generation Public Health major at The University of Texas at Austin. Born in the small town of Brownsville, Texas and raised in the border town of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Flavia is very proud of her Mexican heritage and background. Living a life where two cultures were simultaneously lived, Flavia undoubtedly became inspired to explore more cultures, leading her to Tokyo, Japan. Through her intern experience with YOU ME WE, Flavia believes that having the ability to make an impact on kids with a different backgrounds, cultures, and stories, will fuel her to carry the desire to continue making positive changes around the world, and empower her to make a global change. 

Flavia Reina, is a first year, and first generation Public Health major at The University of Texas at Austin. Born in the small town of Brownsville, Texas and raised in the border town of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Flavia is very proud of her Mexican heritage and background. Living a life where two cultures were simultaneously lived, Flavia undoubtedly became inspired to explore more cultures, leading her to Tokyo, Japan. Through her intern experience with YOU ME WE, Flavia believes that having the ability to make an impact on kids with a different backgrounds, cultures, and stories, will fuel her to carry the desire to continue making positive changes around the world, and empower her to make a global change. 

Summer Intern Marissa Chavez

Marissa Chavez is a senior, public health, pre-med major at the University of Texas at Austin. She is driven by helping the community around her and plans to one day become a pediatrician. When given the chance, Marissa likes to travel to learn more about the world and has had the opportunity to volunteer abroad in various Latin American countries. Currently she volunteers to translate for Spanish-speaking patients in a clinic in Austin. Marissa has worked with other NPO’s before that also work to ensure childrens' well being both in Austin and her hometown, Brownsville, Texas. Marissa is excited to be able to continue to work with this mission in mind now with YouMeWe!

Marissa Chavez is a senior, public health, pre-med major at the University of Texas at Austin. She is driven by helping the community around her and plans to one day become a pediatrician. When given the chance, Marissa likes to travel to learn more about the world and has had the opportunity to volunteer abroad in various Latin American countries. Currently she volunteers to translate for Spanish-speaking patients in a clinic in Austin. Marissa has worked with other NPO’s before that also work to ensure childrens' well being both in Austin and her hometown, Brownsville, Texas. Marissa is excited to be able to continue to work with this mission in mind now with YouMeWe!

Summer Intern India Fiocchi

India Fiocchi is a student at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in International Relations and Global Studies with a minor in Chinese. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and has been volunteering her whole life! She spent  most of her time in Chicago volunteering for charities and nonprofits targeted towards helping the city and its citizens. She is thrilled to start working with YouMeWe and strengthen her experience with NPOs. She hopes to work internationally with NPOs or charities in the future!

India Fiocchi is a student at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in International Relations and Global Studies with a minor in Chinese. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and has been volunteering her whole life! She spent  most of her time in Chicago volunteering for charities and nonprofits targeted towards helping the city and its citizens. She is thrilled to start working with YouMeWe and strengthen her experience with NPOs. She hopes to work internationally with NPOs or charities in the future!

Summer Intern Aristote G. Atata

Aristote G-Atata, is currently enrolled as a senior at the University of Kansas and is majoring in a BA in Global & International Studies while parallelly pursuing an undergraduate certificate in intelligence & national security studies within the same institution. Aristote proudly calls Coralville, Iowa home but is in fact an American citizen born Beninese. Aristote has always been attracted by different cultures and would early on develop an attraction to any topics with an international focus. Upon graduation, Aristote expects to serve the United States as a Foreign Service Officer. Spending the next 08 weeks in Tokyo is a golden opportunity and Aristote is looking forward to acquiring an important field experience through YOU ME WE while hoping to also contribute to the fantastic job the NPO is engaged in through the tremendous impact its actions are having on the lives of the children.  

Aristote G-Atata, is currently enrolled as a senior at the University of Kansas and is majoring in a BA in Global & International Studies while parallelly pursuing an undergraduate certificate in intelligence & national security studies within the same institution. Aristote proudly calls Coralville, Iowa home but is in fact an American citizen born Beninese. Aristote has always been attracted by different cultures and would early on develop an attraction to any topics with an international focus. Upon graduation, Aristote expects to serve the United States as a Foreign Service Officer.
Spending the next 08 weeks in Tokyo is a golden opportunity and Aristote is looking forward to acquiring an important field experience through YOU ME WE while hoping to also contribute to the fantastic job the NPO is engaged in through the tremendous impact its actions are having on the lives of the children.  

Next week starts a journey that has been long in the making...

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June 13th at 7am, the 47 riders of Knights in White Lycra (KIWL) will start out on the 500km bike ride from Takasaki to Fukushima over 4 days. Months have been spent preparing, training and raising funds for YouMeWe.

Family, friends, colleagues, companies, employers and many others have donated over 9,000,000 JPY towards encouraging everyone on this journey.

We wanted to share an article written by a friend who was a visiting college student at the time. Originally from Italy but seeking his degree in India for journalism, he also supports a home for boys there. After school and his trip to Japan, he started a school in Greece to help the refugee children from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We took him to St.Francis when he was here and below are the words he left us with after his visit:

“For a Lost Child

My experience within the walls of a Japanese children’s home

By Nicolo Govoni

The air is fresh and clear between the branches of a shrine grove.


As the rainy season gives the inhabitants of Tokyo a day of rest, it is typical in the evening to see couples strolling hand in hand, children lingering on their bikes and ladies hurrying home loaded with shopping bags.


Walking through the slender streets of Minami Kugahara, lined with terraced houses, the street lights reflecting on the silent rails, twilight coming down placid and gentle, I muse that the city down here doesn’t look all that different from the small Italian village my grandmother grew up in.


St. Francis is a small shelter for orphaned children located in South Tokyo, surrounded by the peace and tranquillity of the suburbs. The sloping roof on the brown sky, the golden light shining through the windows, a small garden beyond a wrought iron gate before I remove my shoes to get in. I’m immediately greeted by Sister Yoshibayashi, an old nun with a clever light in her eyes, not a wrinkle in sight on her grey robe, and her hair, grey as well, covered by a veil, makes way in the corridors of St. Francis.


I look around and register the furniture around me carefully, the pictures on the wall, the kawaii statuettes on a polished-looking chest; I try to memorize each element, not only because I will have to write about it, but because I know I'm privileged, for even just being here, my feet flat on the carpet, breathing in the smell of a place carefully protected against intruders, a place that keeps the most fragile and precious of all treasures: the future.


Deep in the corridors of the institution, the light is dimmed to save power, giving the structure an air of welcoming discretion, looking like a hen with her chicks.


"Our 50 children are divided into "family pods" of 7 or 8 each," Sr. Yoshibayashi says, "each with 3 caretakers, rotating in 24 hours shifts, so that the kids are never left alone."


She stops in front of a group of elf-fit shoes and slippers scattered on the ground, in front of the parquet floor, where a slightly ajar door contains the dim light coming from inside. Then Sister Yoshibayashi pushes on the handle, revealing a reality that only a few are allowed to see: a cloud of smells and muffled sounds embraces me, so familiar that I’m stunned for a moment. To the silent question in my gaze, the nun responds with the hint of a smile and a wave of her hand. "Come in," she seems to say.


And then I'm in another world.


It may seem like mere rhetoric, but it’s not. This is indeed as physical an experience as landing in a well known country after a long journey or the smell of a loved one after years away. The sense of smell, memory’s old friend, is in effect the one doing the trick. Crossing the threshold of this first "family pod", what was once a cosy institution loses every possible connotation of a children’s home, and simply turns into a "home".


The floor creaks beneath my bare steps, and I feel the warmth of the wood on the soles of my feet, I sense the tenderness of the kitchen light cutting through the evening, I smell dinner ready on the table, I smell crayons, drawn curtains, scattered toys on the ground (they do have a smell, believe me), unmade beds and clothes hanging out to dry. I sense a day that, after a long morning spent in the classroom, an afternoon of sports and math exercises, is moving towards its well earned end.


At first, I’m motionless, speechless. This is not an orphanage, this is "home", I repeat to myself, and not any “home,” but my home, and yours, and of all those who, in this world, are born with the sacred and too often undervalued right to a happy childhood.


And then I meet the inhabitants of this home, a group of kids ranging from seven to thirteen, squatting in front of the evening anime. Actually, they don’t really pay much attention to me, busy as they are with the job of procrastinating between homework, meal and shower. I chuckle to myself remembering how I was a pro at this, when I was their age.  And despite the fact that I had the love of both my parents, a roof over my head and a slew of possessions to call mine; this place that night was soaked with the very same intimacy I used to know as a child.


The caretaker, a boy of 28 finished with an apron and cooking moist hands, confirms this feeling right away, when questioned about his work. "The part I like the most about my job is seeing these children grow up and become better in front of my eyes, and have a part in this process," he says, and I believe him unconditionally. I know what he's talking about.


The door opens yet again, and I witness the heartening moment in which a second caretaker comes in to take over the first, and one of the kids, getting up from the TV-induced trance, trots over to welcome him, hugging him tight at the waist, his chin well planted in his stomach, speaking to him from below. He’s telling him about his day, I imagine, just as he would with an older brother or his father.


Then we climb to the second floor, where the little ones are housed. This time, beside the wooden door, a welter of childish screams fills the room. I see a helpless caretaker wrestling a horde of giggling gnomes, her back on the floor, but to no avail, as they submerge her without mercy. Soon, however, silence falls as dozens of wide-eyed glances are aimed on me, a common question reflected on each of the little faces: "What are you doing in my house?"


Cautiously, they approach me, as scouts would an unknown beast, assessing the danger at every step.


Do you know what the expression "a bundle of joy" means? You don’t, believe me, unless you've been used as a ladder by a mob of tittering imps. At first, this small boy in pyjamas, not even as tall as my knees, shows me a Lego spaceship, which I observe carefully turning it between my fingers, aware of the expression on the child's face, almost as if based on my judgment, he would receive the Nobel Prize. When I congratulate the boy for his skills demonstrated in the construction, he beams with pride and starts dragging me towards his room to show me Legos covering almost every inch of the floor.


Then a couple of little hands appear leaning towards me, a special needs girl waving and smiling ear to ear as she looks at me from below, waiting. I glance at Sr.Yoshibayashi, and she smiles, her eyes briefly disappearing beyond her glasses, and so I pick the little girl up.


It doesn’t really matter where you come from, the language you speak or the food you have for supper, when a child stretches their hands towards you, you pick them up, and you lift them as high as you can. The little girl, giggling high above my head, clings to my chest like a pint-sized monkey, and I must admit I’m taken aback, and throw a look at the old nun, who’s laughing her head off, as are the caretakers, and so I laugh too. Soon enough the pairs of hands reaching out to me have multiplied. 


An army of human bonsai pushes me to the corner, and I feel a sudden sense of indescribable admiration and deep gratitude for those who devote their lives to the care of these kids, not as "throw away children", but as if they were their younger brothers, their own children or grandchildren.


St. Francis welcomes orphans aged 2 to 18 years, but often allows them to stay over the age of maturity so that they can face the world without having to leave the only place where they’ve ever felt safe.


Later that evening, I visit other “family pods”. In a separated structure, a group of high school girls who grew up in the institution lead usual teenage lives, texting on their smartphones, wondering with a mixture of fear and excitement what to study at university. One of them plans to pursue Mass Communication, like yours truly, and I rejoice at the idea of mentoring her in the times to come.


In yet another “pod”, kids my age and older have dinner after a day of work, practice English in preparation for an interview, lingering a little longer before they leave St. Francis for good.


I’m not saying that all children’s home are like St. Francis. I am well aware of the cases of abuse that happen in institutions in Japan as well as all over the world even as I type, even as you read this. What I mean to do, though, is to make St. Francis an example, for this is how it should be done. We need to accept that the majority of these children won’t be adopted, but that they can still hope for a better system, and therefore for a better future.


This place proves that sometimes love is stronger than blood, and that every effort we make is truly worth it. I believe it’s uplifting to think that change can be achieved, and that it can be achieved together, one step at a time.”



Summer Intern Yohann A. Andjembe

Yohann A. Andjembe is an international student currently living in the United States. Born and raised in the small charming coastal city of Libreville, Gabon in Central West Africa. He attended Harold Washington College in Chicago, Illinois and received his Associate degree in Social Science in 2015. Then, the following year, he attended Roosevelt University. There, he obtained his Bachelor degree in Political Science precisely in International Relations in December 2018. Yohann is passionate about the politics of development of the global south, languages, and tourism. 
Furthermore, Yohann is bilingual; he speaks both French and English fluently and yet wants to learn more languages. He is presently interning at an international nonprofit organization called YouMeWe in Tokyo, Japan. It is Yohann first experience working in the nonprofit industry, and he is delighted to be given this opportunity. Yohann's goal is to learn more about the organization as well as efficiently contributing to YouMeWe to accomplish its mission which is to help children growing up in institutionalized homes prepare for life outside the home once they reach the age of 18.

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Big Thank you to JLL Japan

Thank you to the team at JLL Japan for the donation of 14 laptops for the homes. We are giving to Matsubaen as they have desktops but have been wanting laptops to be able to move around Itabashi and teach in other homes what they have learned

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Bring your real estate to life through technology and innovation. Connect people, processes, and technology to prepare your business for the future.

https://www.us.jll.com/en/transform-with-technology

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