Monday, September 30, 2013

Preparations for my trip to Fukushima

A few months ago I had the privilege of interning with the Japan America Society and was fortunate enough to have been a part of an exchange program to brought 8 orphans from an orphanage called Fukushima Aiiukuen to California for a 10 day exchange program.  Fukushima Aiiukuen is located just outside of the no-entry zone in Fukushima and its children live under the enormous pressure both from the social and physical danger of Fukushima, as well as the discrimination that all orphans face in Japanese society.

Due to radiation contamination, the 150 children in this orphanage are not allowed to be outside for more than 2 hours a day and are restricted to indoor activities during most of their free time. To make matters worse, they, like others from Fukushima face social discrimination and are treated as outcasts by certain segments of Japanese society due to the paranoia cast on individuals living in an environment with radiation contamination.

Further, all orphans in Japan are heavily discriminated against for the sole reason that they live outside of the traditional Japanese family structure as orphans. This discrimination can undermine these children's futures in almost every way imaginable.  Because of this, their identities need to be kept confidential and it is for this reason that I cannot upload any pictures with these children on this blog.
I also created a movie that showcases this 10 day program that will later be used to promote this program.  I really wish I could share this with all of you on this post.

The exchange program that brought these students over was created for the purpose of granting some of the children from Fukushima a chance to live 2 weeks away from the worries they face in Fukushima for a life-changing experience in America.  During these two weeks, these children were treat as VIPs and had an experience of a lifetime.  Through this program JAS hopes to help these children see something greater than what they are restricted to as orphans in Fukushima with the purpose of giving them inspiration and goals in their lives.  It also will inspire orphans who were not selected for this tour to achieve better grades since students with the highest English grades are chosen for this yearly program.

Tomorrow on October 2nd, I will have the opportunity to travel with JAS to meet with the staff members and children of Fukushima Aiiukuen.  I will also have the opportunity to share the video I have created to help promote this exchange program to the orphanage.  I cant wait!

My plans for my visit to Fukushima Aiiukuen on October 2nd are all set!  A special thanks to Tina Tajima for generously taking care my travel, lodging, and various other expenses for this trip! Here is a package that I received this afternoon from Tina that provides me with everything I will need to visit Fukushima.
I first met Tina shortly after I returned from a volunteering and touring experience in Northern Japan.  I was a part of a panel that updated various members of the Japanese community on the current state of affairs in the Tohoku region. 
Tina is the lady on the left dressed in a black shirt.  She works in Tokyo and has been very supportive of my wishes to volunteer and assist Japanese people affected by the March 11th disasters.

No comments:

Post a Comment