In August 2011, soon after the Great Earthquake, the first trip took place as follows. We appreciated the overwhelming support from every corner.
Dates: 8-18 August 2011
Participants: 10 children from Fukushima who were affected by the earthquake
Homestay: Various families in Sydney
During their visit to Sydney, children enjoyed the usual sights in Sydney such as the Opera House, went on a dolphin-spotting cruise, as well as many other activities supported and provided by many well wishers. Other activities included Aboriginal cultural show, bushwalking, Tentsukuman, cultural exchange with a local school, 4WDing and BBQ in a wildlife park, Aquarium, Taronga Zoo, ferry ride, different restaurants, etc.
★Feedback from the participants
What was the highlight of your visit?
“All of the outdoor activities including PE class has been banned since the nuclear power plant accident. It was great playing in fresh air to our hearts’ content” – Y6 boy, Y7 boy
“It was exciting to spot koalas in the wild, touching one, spotting dolphins for the first time in my life.” – Y7 boy
“This summer, could not go to the beach we usually go to. I loved playing on the beach in Sydney. The beaches are very pretty.” – Y8 girl
“I made good friends with the host Mum, Dad and children!” – Y6 boy, Y8 girl
“Great visiting an Australian school. I want to go to Glenaeon!” – Y6 boy
“I ate lots of vegetables and meat without worrying (about the radioactive contamination)” – Y6 boy, Y8 boy
“I met many people and experienced many different things.” – Y11 boy
“Everyone was so nice!” – every participant
What is it like back in Fukushima?
“We are not allowed to eat vegetables or beef. We mainly eat last year’s rice and bread.” “Mother took my little brother and sister to a faraway place to keep them safe. It is a lonely life with just father and me.” Y6 boy
“Outdoor activities have been banned all along.” “School field is being cleansed (of radioactive materials)” Y7 boy, ‘8 girl
“Our school is recommending time-out from radiation. Our school holidays will be longer than usual.” Y7 girl
“Many student had left in the new term.” Y6 boy Y7 boy
“I am wary of radiation. I cannot play outside. I don’t think nuclear power is good.” Y8 girl
Parents’ comments from Fukushima
“We have not taken the children anywhere since the disaster. It was a wonderful opportunity for them.”
“Even if we want to buy safe produce, we can only purchase locally grown produce. I do not know what to feed the children. We are scared of radiation from food. I could relax from such worries while the children were in Sydney.”
“My younger child is at my parents’ place outside of Fukushima”
“The government and school policies outside of the cordon-off area are not consistent. We have to use our own judgement to protect our family.”
“We want to send our children somewhere over the winter holiday in order to minimise the accumulation radiation”
“We want to move the children to a safer place.”
“We are considering moring schools”
-telephone interview by the Nichigo Press September 2011