Many of you will remember that last November Midori and I staged an exhibition in Hobart to raise funds for survivors of the North East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis. The response from the people of Hobart was heart warming, and we estimate approximately 1000 people visited the Waterfront Pavillion over the seven days the exhibition was on, and in the end we raised $4330. On top of this, the Australia Japan Society of Tasmania made a donation of $3170 meaning we had $7500 to donate to needy causes in Tohoku.
Over the past few months two projects were selected, and this week we have met representatives from these organisations to make the donations in person on behalf of all those who gave so generously in Hobart late last year.
One organisation is called “Living Dreams” which aims to look after children who were made orphans after the disaster of March 11, 2011. We met with the President of Aiikuen, in Fukushima City, where the handover of AU$2500 (187,000 Japanese Yen) took place. These funds will be put to great use for children who really have lost everything.
The second organisation we met with was Fukushima Kids. The main aim of Fukushima Kids is to allow kids from Fukushima Prefecture to take a short one/two-week break outside the prefecture (to places like Hokkaido, Nagano, Yokohama). Removing children from areas affected by radiation from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant has great health benefits, both physical and mental. Firstly, children are particularly susceptible to radiation in the environment and it can accumulate quite quickly in young bodies. Similarly however, radiation also leaves a young body fast once the child is removed from that environment. Secondly, as most of the population centres in Fukushima Prefecture are quite close to the Nuclear Plant, outdoor activities have been severly restricted since the accident. Last summer, most schoolyards were having radiated topsoil removed and any outdoor activities such as baseball training were either cancelled outright or moved indoors into gymnasiums. Life has been fundamentally changed, with radiation levels being reported on the daily news and the public generally uncertain about the safety of the food they are eating and the water they are using. This of course creates enormous stress, and families have been forced to make extremely difficult decisions such as dad staying in Fukushima to work, while mum and the kids relocate to a cleaner, safer environment. In any case, Fukushima Kids provides a chance for children still living in areas of elevated radiation levels to have a fun-filled week of outdoor activities and we chose to donate AU$5000.00 (373,000 Japanese Yen) to this organisation.
Once again, a big thank you to everyone in Hobart who visited the exhibition last year. Both organisations we gave to were immensely appreciative, not just because of the funds received, but also just to know that people all over the world are still thinking of them here in north-eastern Japan.