Fukushima Kids Find Brief Respite in Oregon
The sounds of carefree laughter and outdoor play are something we often push aside as commonplace. In the case of Fukushima, Japan, these sounds have been nothing more but memories. With the nuclear aftereffects of the March 11th disaster, families and kids in Fukushima were required to be indoor for months, fearing the contaminated air and food that waited outside their doors.
Survivors have been finding ways to seek comfort during these trying times. And in an effort to provide a few families with respite, 11 kids and parents have been welcomed to host families in Oregon for a month.
Getting a taste of the outdoors and finally feeling a sense of relief, some families are starting to look at other alternatives. “I felt it was necessary to get away from that place where we had a really scary experience, and watch my son feel better and more alive,” Yoshie Arai tells MSNBC. “That made me feel sure it was a good decision. But this trip has made me feel really strongly that maybe going back — that’s not really the place to live. … I want to seek other alternatives.”
Yoshie is not alone in her sentiments. According to government data, over 46,000 people have moved away from Fukushima since the fateful March 11th disaster. Despite government efforts to calm public fears, low levels of iodine have been found in thyroid glands of children from the area. Additionally, food and water are also contaminated with levels of radiation.
Although Fukushima will still be home for a lot of residents, the one month break in Oregon has reinvigorated their sense of resolve. “I think this made me stronger,” Mayumi Abe said. “Coming here has actually refreshed me … and this really helped me to look ahead.”