Water is essential for life, and Japan has been proud of its abundance in water. However, after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, shortage of safe water is threatening the well-being of young children in Fukushima. The following report describes AAR’s current effort to protect health of children by providing bottled water to nurseries and kindergartens in Fukushima Prefecture.
After the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, radiation exposure has been a serious concern for everyone living in the affected area including young children who are thought to experience larger impact by radiation. Mothers are always worried about what their children consume at home and outside. Although food comes to many people’s mind as a primary source of radiation exposure, water, not only for drinking but also for cooking, is also a critical one.
In the most part of Fukushima Prefecture, water for daily use was not something people are accustomed to paying for. Instead they used to use tap water for drinking and cooking without worry before the nuclear power plant accident. When concern about the radiation contamination in tap water arose, nurseries and kindergartens were suddenly forced to find a way to procure safe water. At any nurseries and kindergartens, plenty of water is used every day for drinking, cooking lunch and snack for children and preparing milk for infants. However, many facilities did not have a separate budget for water purchase and no extra budget was available especially in the aftermath of the earthquake - people were facing a lot of unexpected expenses. There were some nursery school staff who bought safe bottled water for children at their own expenses and some nurseries had children to bring bottled water from home. Some teachers told us that they really wished to let children drink safe water as much as they want when they are thirsty, which they took for granted for ages.
In response to this wish, AAR Japan has been providing safe bottled water to 9 nurseries and kindergartens in Soma, Minami Soma and Date City in Fukushima Prefecture. The total amount delivered reached 16,480 litters so far. It was a great pleasure for us to see children happily drinking water and more unforgettable was the facility staff’s relieved expression. They told us that although they sometimes received time-to-time water donation, they had always been anxious since the donation was not guaranteed to continue. Water is simply essential for daily living, and the fear of running out of it is horrifying.
AAR Japan has also been supporting Yotsuba Nursery School through providing fruits for children’s lunch. Due to the concern on the radiation contamination in locally produced food, the nursery school has tried to purchase food items produced outside Fukushima Prefecture, but as they were costlier than the locally produced, this option was not financially sustainable. Hence AAR Japan decided to deliver fruits that are produced outside Fukushima Prefecture in response to the request from the nursery. Children are now able to enjoy seasonal, nutritious and safe fresh fruits for lunch. Meanwhile, this support could have more meaning - maintaining balanced diet and good eating habit at an early stage of life has a huge impact on children’s growth and future physical health. Children are eating not only for today, but also for their future.
AAR Japan will continue the support through provision of water and fruits to nurseries and kindergartens. Let us help children and mothers in Fukushima Prefecture to maintain good health through safe water and balanced diet.
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