Fukushima Youth Ambassadors depart for Australia!
The Fukushima Youth Ambassadors, 12 junior high school students (ages 13-14) from Minamisoma City, are departing for Australia today!
The youth are from Minamisoma, a city located on the coast only 25 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was also heavily affected by the devastating tsunami which hit the area 2 years ago this month. Although former Prime Minister Noda declared an “end” to the nuclear crises, the situation at the plant is still unstable – demonstrated by the blackout this week. Furthermore, many places are still contaminated with high level of radiation, and survivors are thus under tremendous pressure and stress: trauma, fear, separation from family, economic strains, community pressures, health concerns and anxiety. This is an untenable situation for anybody, but especially cruel for youth and for their worried parents. The parents of the city are desperate for a safe alternative to their children remaining isolated indoors.
For this reason, 12 Fukushima Youth Ambassadors will visit Melbourne for a programme of educational and cultural exchange with local students and citizen’s groups. This will be an opportunity to experience intercultural understanding workshops, learn about environmental issues through outdoor activities, and practise English. In this healthy, dynamic and creative environment they will learn new skills, enjoy new experiences and gain a fresh perspective on the future, invaluable to them as they struggle to consider the future of their disaster-affected community.
Accompanying staff Hazuki Dwyer says: “I hope this experience will provide an opportunity for students from Fukushima to enjoy the great nature in Australia and feel the warmth and support from people- it is very important and encouraging to know that there are many people continuously caring about them.” The children also see this visit as an opportunity to express their appreciation for the ongoing support from Australia following the triple disaster. On his reasons for participating, one 14 year old boy says: “After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, the people of Australia sent us a lot of support. I want to go there and directly share our thanks.”
This programme is being organised by Peace Boat and Minamisoma Kodomo no Tsubasa as the local partner in Fukushima. It is being coordinated in Australia by Melbourne-based Japanese for Peace, with support from the Japan Club of Victoria, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and the Australian Conservation Foundation, amongst more.
Download their full itinerary and media release here.