Fukushima children visit Australia
A group of Japanese schoolchildren affected by the Fukushima Nuclear disaster has travelled to Australia this week, as part of a trip organised by charity project.
The Rainbow Stay Project is designed to give the children a chance to do things they can no longer do at home, due to the fear of radiation poisoning.
Some of the survivors of the Fukushima nuclear disaster spend the morning having fun in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
Playing soccer and volleyball, and practising their karate moves.
The group of children, aged between ten and sixteen, are here on a charity-sponsored trip.
It is world away from the ongoing fear of radiation which affects their daily lives back home.
This is 11-year-old Kazuki’s first time in Australia.
“I am so happy to come to Australia. It’s very safe place and I’m to feel that so many people support me … and I won’t be able to forget that.”
The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami on the north-east coast of Japan changed their lives forever.
A young boy, also called Kazuki, is dressed in his karate outfit as he remembers what happened that day.
“I was in primary school in the classroom and had to evacuate. I was very nervous because I lost contact with my parents and family, but I finally found them.”
Some of the children who are here in Australia this week had family members die.
Most still haven’t been able to return home.
Kazuki says the threat of radiation still affects her life in many ways.
“I was really sad because everything was polluted by radioactive material. I couldn’t swim in the sea anymore and my mum told me to stay inside and not touch the soil.”
There have been several trips like this since 2011, thanks to a Japanese woman living in Sydney.
Yukiko Hirano set up a Rainbow Stay Project with the aim of giving the children new hope.
” I tried to invite the Fukushima children to come over to Sydney. Beautiful environment, and no fear of radiation earthquake. They can enjoy entire holiday, without fearing those kind of things.”
The children have spent time at Bondi Beach, Taronga Zoo and visiting landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
They’ve also spent time meeting local Australian children in schools.
Andrew Vickers is from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union which helped make the trip a reality.
“They can’t eat fish from the sea, they can’t pick up plants and flowers, they can’t touch any wild animals for fear of further radiation poisoning – so it’s not just coming to another country, it’s a totally new experience”