Helping Out

May 17, 2011 · 11 comments

As the work here in Fukushima is understandably slow so I’ve been helping out in evacuation centres around the area. Mostly people want English teachers for boosting morale and to help with children. The Fukushima prefecture has lost 60% of the foreign English teachers due to them moving abroad after the earthquake and tsunami (mostly teachers with children noticeably), so there are a lot of jobs going at the moment, when learning English is now more important than ever as it helps with communicating needs worldwide.

Evacuation centre March 11th Earthquake Japan

Boy walks from play area in evacuation centre

While some centres are understandably filled with people who are morning lost ones, houses, pets, etc. There are still families who are full and complete just without a home and normal life now.

Delivery boxes to evacuation centres in Japan earthquake

Deliveries for the evacuation centres are being made

One of the places I went was the evacuation centre for people within the 20km radius of the nuclear power plant, so their homes were mostly OK, just at a risk of radiation. The photo of boxes above and the childrens play area is from here. They were giving radiation tests to anyone who wants it to see if they had elevated levels of radiation in their body, it was a very through and slow scan and I had it done. Like everyone else in Fukushima, I was in completely normal levels of radiation (everyone has something there is not a proper ‘zero radiation’ level in reality – everytime you take a flight you gain radiation in your body). I noticed the geiger counter raised slightly around my face from previous dental x-rays (of which I’ve only had 4-5 in my lifetime). I guess this shows that your local dentist practise is more radioactive than the Fukushima area right now and also radioactive absorption in the body doesn’t go away very fast once you have it.

Radiated in Fukushima

My radiation pass certificate

The effort to aid recovery here really is impressive. I don’t think many other countries can recover as fast as Japan can from such catastrophes. It makes me relate more when I see any future event on the news. What I have also learnt is how damaging the media can become too. You have to read between the lines and seek professional and experienced people to get a realistic view on what will happen as well as pay attention to the first hand accounts (which as some colleagues here have found out get edited to show only the bad news) for the quickest updates.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bluegreen Kirk May 17, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Sadly a lot of people have left the area that will surely be missed. Though a lot of people are mourning there are still those who have their families but simply no place to stay. Everyone can use a helping hand right now, just because the media has stopped the nationwide coverage doesnt mean help isnt needed.
Bluegreen Kirk´s latest blogpost – Shake Your Mane To The Songs Of The Lion King On Broadway

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AdventureRob May 23, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Yes very true, families who can share accommodation are. I believe the total count of orphans from the tsunami is 76 so they are looking for homes too.

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Sophie May 17, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Wow! Looks never thought my trip to the dentist is radioactive. It’s nice to see that their are improvements happening after the tragedy.

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AdventureRob May 23, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Yes, so is every flight you take!

There is plenty of natural radiation about (admittedly an xray in a dentist isn’t natural though), in small doses it is perfectly harmless.

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Alouise May 17, 2011 at 10:47 PM

The media is a such a tricky thing. It’s important to be informed, but I think scare tactics are used too often. I’m glad to hear the recovery effort is going well in Japan, and things seem to be getting back to normal.
Alouise´s latest blogpost – Road Trip Memories Week 7 – A Welcome Sign On The Road

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AdventureRob May 23, 2011 at 3:24 PM

New media is much better at getting a realistic word out there, such as twitter. However I found that frustrating to use in the event of crisis as there is a lot of spam which does not matter and some of the good stuff was lost in the crowd.

Traditional media has to sell their stories so it is often sensationalised which does more damage than good sometimes.

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Vi May 18, 2011 at 7:56 AM

Are people (i.e. Enlish teachers) coming back to Japan?
Vi´s latest blogpost – Why you always should wear seat belt on the plane

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AdventureRob May 23, 2011 at 3:25 PM

I’m not sure. I know many exchange students left which was compulsory by their sponsoring universities back home. I work with teachers and the ones that left usually found another job abroad or it was time for them to leave anyway. Times are tough here and although people are grateful to have jobs, there is also plenty of other job opportunities about.

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Kirsten Alana May 23, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Thank you for helping. My brother lives just outside Tokyo and I’ve been dying to be over there myself but can’t afford the plane ticket. It’s wonderful to know someone is there when I cannot be.
Kirsten Alana´s latest blogpost – On Clichés and Writer’s Block

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AdventureRob May 25, 2011 at 4:52 AM

There are people here still helping, it’s going to be bad and frustrating for those effected for a few years yet. To be honest there is little that can be done on a individual scale though, it’s the group efforts that are progressing things the quickest.

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