Since the nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011, we have seen a growing need for recuperation and evacuation of children, who are subjected to irradiation every day. At the same time, we also noticed that there are numbers of people among the readers of WNSCR who feel they want to do something for the children. However, we realized that readers who live abroad do not necessary have easy access to the right information for hosting children.
Although the World Network for Saving Children from Radiation is not directly involved in organizing or coordinating recuperation programs, it is our joy to connect our readers’ kind will and the demand for recuperation on the Japanese side. We believe that it is extremely important for children to have healthy environments free from radiation and we want to offer as much support as possible for the children and for those who are interested in hosting them abroad.
Please give children an oppotunity to play in radiation free environment!
NOTE: WNSCR is not responsible for any agreements or activities between hosts and participants. However, among the WNSCR members, there are several individuals who have personally hosted children or have been involved in hosting programs in the past, so please feel free to contact us at info. E-mail account if you have questions.
Why do children need to be away from radiation-contaminated areas? An Iwaki resident expresses her concern about her kindergarten child.
I was blessed with a child after 6 years of marriage. Two years later, I had a second child.
My only wish was that they grow up to be healthy, active children.
Iwaki, where I live, is rich in natural beauty, with both mountains and ocean. I felt happiness in being able to raise my children in this place where I grew up. I took them outdoors almost every day. They enjoyed each season. And we chose a kindergarten for them that allowed a lot of time for children to play outside.
But, the nuclear accident changed our lives drastically.
We can no longer enjoy delicious fresh vegetables, edible wild plants or fish, from local sources.
We can no longer let the children play outside. What the children loved to do, playing in the sand, collecting fallen leaves, or taking a walk in rain, all became dangerous.
What is waiting for us in the future? I apologized to my children and myself for bringing them into this world, now so hard to live in.
After the accident, at the kindergarten, they kept the children indoors. Within the limited space, the teachers tried to be creative in keeping the children engaged and interested, and maintaining their physical strength.
The kindergarten installed an indoor pool. It must have cost a lot of money. It reflected the teachers' wish that the children be able to exercise and have fun.
In October 201, we held a sports day on the school ground from which the teachers and parents scraped contaminated soil a number of times. The skin of the children looked pale. That was impossible before the nuclear accident. In a vaulting horse race, there were children who fell on their bottoms or faces. Their arms were too weak to hold their own weight. We ended up witnessing the dwindling physical strength of the children. But they played hard and had lots of fun. We were glad to be able to hold it outside, though we had to cut it short.
It was around this time that my older son's coughing became incessant. I took him to several doctors, but all said it was asthma. But the medicine for asthma did not work at all. He could not sleep at night because of the cough. He was often in a daze during the day.
In March 2012, I took him to a refresh camp, and we spent a month in a clean environment. The cough he suffered every day stopped after being there for three days. I took to my heart the importance of these refresh camps for the children who live in an environment contaminated with radiation.
That year, we spent another full month at a refresh camp during the summer. By the time we left there, I could see the significant growth of my children. The change was recognizable, not just in their health and vitality. They expanded the spheres of experience to the ocean, river and mountains. My older one started drawing pictures in which he was playing happily outdoors. The nuclear accident stole such precious experiences from the children.
Though my children repeated these refresh camps, the thyroid check in November 2012 found a number of small cysts in their thyroids. How much initial dose did they suffer? I felt very anxious about the future. It was just a mother's instinct. But something very serious was happening. It would not be limited to cancer. I informed the people who host refresh camps in areas near or outside of Tokyo of the result of my children's tests. The children in those areas did not escape the exposure to high levels of radiation right after the explosions. Their mothers share the same concern.
This past winter, I met a number of children who came alone to a refresh camp. First and second graders spent two weeks without their parents. Quite honestly, this is quite abnormal. There are a limited number of spaces in these camps. If a mother lets her child go alone, there is another spot available for another child. She must want to go with her child, but she refrains for that reason. There are kids who become home sick. It does not matter how old they are. The family wanted to spend the new years holidays together. But that was not possible, with the child at the camp. The mother cries at home in secret.
The kids themselves are also trying very hard. It breaks my heart to watch them. There are ones who bravely eat packed lunch from home while everyone else is eating school lunch. There are kids who want to go into the pool with their friends, but choose not to. And children who were once evacuated, bullied as “radiation” and returned......
On New Year's Day when people pay a visit to a shrine, I saw a second grader with an innocent face grumbled “wishes are not going to come true anyway”. There was a child who was wailing and talking as if to let out all her emotions she had been holding in. The feelings that she could not even share with her parents.... They are doing their best. They are bearing a lot of pressure. What is it that is going through their hearts and minds every day?
We need to protect the health of these children. There are many families who cannot evacuate, even if they want to, for financial and other reasons. At least, we want the children to recuperate in a place with much less contamination. The prefectural and municipal governments are not acting. But there are groups in various parts of Japan, who host children from Fukushima. We are truly grateful. They usually operate on donations. Thus there are limits to how many children they can accept. The total number is still very small and not enough. These refresh camps are an absolute necessity for the children in Fukushima.
We need to connect, and spread the circle of connections, to make sure that this country does not take steps in the wrong direction. It is my sincere prayer that many more people will pay attention to the importance of the refresh camps and support them for the future of our children.
(Anonymous, Mother of two children, Iwaki-city, Fukushima pref.)
Treanslated and edited for the website by WNSCR team
How to find individuals in need of recuperation and hosting organization/programs
WNSCR members around the world have seen many people who are interested to give support to the children in need. The importance of long term recuperation for children's health is well known in the experiances of Chernobyl. There are many ways to support children in Fukushima and other areas in Japan. Here are some possibilities you can consider to perticipate yourself in the action to orotect children's health and future.
Our allied organizations provide ways to find Japanese families and children in need of recuperation and organizations which organize programs.
The website of Hahako (haha means mother, ko means child in Japanese) is widely used in Japan and abroad for recuperation matching. This website offers a service that connects host families/host organizations and families who look for recuperation. An English webpage is available.
Please note that hahako.net does not coordinate or involve in actual recuperation programs, so users, both hosts and recuperation seekers, are required to act on their own responsibility. When you post your information on the website, please read their policy carefully.
Coalition for Recuperation Hoyo-n soudankai (the website is Japanese only)
Our allied organization, Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation, is offering a webpage to help Japanese individuals who look for recuperation programs and host families/host organizations.
On the website, organizations or individuals can put detailed information of their recuperation programs as hosts for children or families living in Japan. However, this website is currently in Japanese only, so it is critical for the host to have someone who can communicate in Japanese to mediate all the information exchanged between the hosts (residents abroad) and family/children.
Pictures of recuperation in Yamanashi prefecture in the summer 2013 (below).