Today, many mothers and their children gathered at Mrs. Shima's home to share with me their very personal stories. Mrs. Shima, along with Mrs. Sugano, have been instrumental in getting the word out about my filming Fukushima and introducing me to so many of the families I am documenting. (Mrs. Shima also organized a meeting like this during my last trip to Fukushima, which resulted in this story HERE).
Mrs. Shima welcomed the mothers and their children into her home which was so beautifully decorated for Christmas. While they took turns sharing with me their stories, I noticed that in the other room they were talking amongst themselves. I was so honoured that the mothers were willing to come here to speak with me and also glad that Mrs. Shima's inviting them here was providing them with an opportunity to be together and to share information with each other as well.
Mrs. Yasuda is concerned about the decontamination of the schools her son Haruto, 8, and daughter Yuri, 11, attend. She does believe that the radiation levels at the school are "lower" than what they were last year directly after the nuclear meltdown, but worries that the levels still may be dangerous. She also is concerned that the areas surrounding the schools have not been decontaminated.
Mrs. Sato brought with her the ultrasounds for her son Kaishin, 10, that show the multiple cysts on both sides of his thyroid. She desperately wants to believe what the doctor administering the official government health exam told her: that it is possible that the cysts are naturally occuring, were there before the nuclear meltdown and have nothing to do with the radiation, and that they will not develop into anything more serious.
I met Mrs. Tsuda the last time I was in Fuksuhima, but this was the first time for me to meet her children. Mrs. Tsuda's son Naoki has multiple thyroid cysts. Her daughter Yuika has so many cysts the doctor couldn't count them. Yuika's blood work also shows that her thyroglobulin levels are elevated.
|つださんの息子は数個の 嚢胞があり、娘は数えきれないほどの 嚢胞が見つかった。|
Mrs. Suzuki is concerned for her daughter Rin, 2. Her daughter Airi, 8, has multiple thyroid cysts.
Mrs. Ooyama's daughter Nozomi, 17, is in her second year of high school and speaks perfect English. She wants to be an entertainer AND an engineer. She also has thyroid cysts. Nozomi told me that she and her friends are worried about getting married and having children.
I am so honoured that these families came together to share with me their very important and personal stories. Despite all that has happened and is continuing to happen to them, the people of Fukushima remain warm and welcoming.
What does the future hold for these children of Fukushima? I am again left with more questions than answers.