Friday, June 17, 2011
[Hawaii Update] Meet Tomoko
This is Tomoko. She is a 33-year-old Hula instructor from Tokyo, Japan. I have now known her and have been working with her in Hawaii for 17 days. Tomoko left Japan after the earthquake hit because, despite the government's claims, she does not believe that it is safe there right now.
Today she watched some Japanese news broadcast on the laptop provided for us in a corner of the farm's potting shed. People in Tokyo have been reporting that they have been getting bloody noses and sore throats (and who knows what other serious health conditions) from living in an environment riddled with radiation. The health effects are especially obvious in children.
When Tomoko was explaining this to me at dinner this evening, my immediate emotional response was (and still is) sadness. Sadness that people do not have the choice but to live in unhealthy and dangerous situations. For Tomoko, there is also fear. Her 3 month visa is almost up and soon she will have to leave Hawaii and return to Japan. She says that she knows in her heart that it is not safe there but Tokyo is were she grew up, it's where her family is, and it is where her friends are.
It is easy to be an outsider and comment "Well of course I would get the hell out of there. It's a nuclear disaster zone." But not only are there legal/political obstacles for moving away, there are social barriers as well. Would you rather stick around and chance serious health repercussions sue to radiation exposure or leave everything you know/love?
Be thankful for the choices that you have because some people do not have the choice to healthy and safe.