※The interview was held mainly in Japanese.
Yoshimi Horiuchi hails from Kochi Prefecture. Visually impaired since birth, she later became completely blind. Horiuchi encountered the English languagein junior high school and began to take an interest in it due to its sound, which was new to her, and to the fact that being able to speak English opened doors. Enrolling in Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, University of Tsukuba, she studied abroad as an exchange student at a school for the visually impaired as well as a high school in the state of Minnesota in the USA for approximately one year starting in July of her senior year. While studying abroad, Horiuchi became acquainted with a Thai high school student and began learning the Thai language upon her return to Japan.
In April 2003, Horiuchi entered International Christian University (ICU). In March 2004, she participated in a work camp in Thailand operated by ICU and ICU Church. During summer break of the same year, Horiuchi taught Japanese and English for two months in Thailand's capital Bangkok at Foundation for Employment Promotion of the Blind in Thailand (FEPB), which she found through the Internet. During junior year, she studied abroad at Thailand's Thammasat University via ICU's exchange program and learned about Thailand's history, Buddhism, ethnic minority culture, economics, and so on.
In March 2007, Horiuchi graduated from ICU and began working at a major securities company as a translator and translation coordinator. Deciding that international development work is her path in life, she resigned after one year and nine months. In 2009, Horiuchi participated in a one-year program run by Kanthari International, an organization in the state of Kerala in India that cultivates social entrepreneurs. Acquiring skills necessary for establishing and operating NGOs/NPOs, she went to Thailand once again in February 2010 and started operations that became the forerunner of Always Reading Caravan Association. In January 2014, Horiuchi officially registered Always Reading Caravan Association as an NGO in Thailand. The organization currently operates two libraries with mobile library services and three centers dedicated to the acquisition of basic literacy and numeracy skills by preschool children from hill tribe communities.