Monday, 20 May 2013

Chickens, Clothes on the Line, & Radiation

Shinchi Base
On Thursday, I went to the Shinchi base. It is a base that the project set up for support in Shinchi City. This city was devastated not only by the tsunami but it is also in an area with some radiation (very low in comparison to the area immediately surrounding the nuclear power plant). There are three sets of temporary housing in Shinchi. Two of which, are for those whose houses got swept away. The other one, Gonya, is filled with residents who lived in highly contaminated areas before the disaster. It has the most kids and is the biggest set of temporary houses in that area. They used wood instead of the steel walls that other housing unit have. They also made space between each individual unit, that way you can’t hear everything that your neighbors say. That is a common problem that other temporary housings have. Since there are so many children living there they even have a playground.When building this set of temporary houses they put a lot of thought into it. For people who have been displaced from their homes that makes all the difference in the world.

I went with one of the staff members on his daily rounds to the housing units. I was able to visit the bigger of
Gonya Temporary housing
the three units. In the common space there were four older women making some beautiful origami artwork. We sat with them for a little while. About a month ago the local government told them that it was ok for them to return to their houses. Even though the electricity is working, they cannot use the water in the area. Therefor they would have to buy water at the store if they wanted to wash anything, shower, or cook. They are allowed to go home for a short period of time but not allowed to live there yet.

Origami artwork
One of the women we met, recently visited her house for the first time since the day of the disaster two years ago. She still had clothes hanging to dry from that day. She said she immediately put them in a trash. When she went home she took a Geiger counter (an instrument used to count the level of radiation) with her. In her house the levels were low but when she checked outside it was a 5. That is very high and definitely unsafe. She was shocked and upset. She said “how in the world are they saying its safe to return home when the levels are still so high?”  After her explanation they laughed about making these temporary housings their permanent homes. They joked around saying “well Shinchi is a nice place, right?” Though they have lived in those temporary houses for nearly two years, they are not their homes. They are craving to turn home, to return to their normal lives, to no longer be displaced.

Matchan! He is my favorite Anglican Brother

They have chickens at Shinchi Base!

1 comment:

  1. Geiger counters and their calibrations...Glad to hear people are not taking authority at its word, the risk is too high.

    Glad you were able to visit Shinchi! I hope you have a great week!