Message and Comment from Fukushima Kid's parents

Message from Fukushima kid's parents.
(Translated by Emi, Akina, Yuka and Sanae. )

Thank you very much for all your support for this project.
We really appreciate it.


The children looked so content and I really think they grew up a lot during the camp. I would like to send a sincere gratitude toward all the people who cared about our children. Thank you so much.
The earthquak
e and the nuclear disaster were very shocking and sad incidents, however, we feel that our children are very lucky to be able to gain such warm experience after all. 
We adults will have to work towards it too; towards Fukushima's recovery, in a real sense. 

A big thank you to many of you.

From Karin's parent (Mrs Akemi Hirakuri)

Thank you Maki for looking after my son during the Refresh Camp! After yesterday's report session, I could feel how fulfilled everyday was for the children and I was full of pleasure, pride and gratitude. 
It was Yuushi's first overseas trip and I guess he was more anxious until the depature day. I suppose, coming to an unknown land where people speak in a different language, having to spend time with new people and even staying at a stranger's house by himself would have been a lot of pressure for Yuushi and other children. However, seeing their pictures, movies and diaries that's posted everyday, I could not help adoring all the children! 
After they arrived in Cairns, my husband and I felt relieved seeing the pictures that you and Mr.Kodama posted. We really appreciated that. 
Yuushi was saying he was looking forward to going to the Great Barrier Reef before the departure. But after coming back from Cairns, what impressed him the most was Nick's (self-sustainable) life style. When I heard that from Yuushi, it reminded me of the story of "Hummingbird's droplet". It reminded me to simply continue doing what I can do like the humming bird in that story or like Nick. I am looking forward to how Yuushi is going to grow after meeting such an inspiring person. Thank you for a wonderful encounter.
Although the camp is over, I wish Yuushi will remember what he felt and learned in Cairns and keep them alongside his life all the time. I don't want that to become just a memory of the past. 
While Yuushi was in Cairns I took my Year1 son to a different refreshment camp in Kanagawa. I went there for the first time, but I heard from the staff that they ran out of the subsidy and funding with this time, and they cannot schedule the next camp for a while. This is the reality even within the country. But in such a situation I realised that without the support and helps from so many people we were not able to send Yuushi to Cairns. I strongly wish that this project will continue for a long time. 
Thank you so much Maki and all the staff from Smile With Kids!!

Yushi's mum Miki Ito

Thank you so much everyone of SWK and people in Cairns who took care of kids. By being exposed to Australian nature, healed by beautiful ocean in Cairns, also touched by generous people, They had a great experience and grew up with wider point of view, not just being refreshed. I am so grateful. Thank you for fulfilled days in Cairns with walking barefoot, lying down on the lawn, things they cannot do in Fukushima with precious smile in nature. They still miss Cairns so much. All kids said they want to learn good Australian culture and talk to people friendlily. Someday we'd like to visit you and return the favour. It was very nice to know you. Thank you.

Ayaka's mother Naomi Fujii


Thank you for the time at the Cairns refreshment camp.

On the day of departure, the children seemed out of their comfort zone and looked quite serious.

My son is naturally quite chatty. He could get along well easily with boys his age. However, he later told me he thought about how best to approach older boy and girls, and did his best to interact with them.

I was able to discover that my son has been able to care for others and think about how he could create opportunities for strangers to become friends.

My son departed saying he wants to tell people about Fukushima and its current state. However, I sent him off wondering just how much he really knows about Fukushima, and how he might communicate that to others. 

It seems like each day he was able to find his own voice and made inroad in that. 

English isn’t his forte, and in terms of pronunciation, he may have struggled the most out of all the participants. Despite this, he tried to convey messages from his heart, and he gave his very best. 

His experiences and challenges of being affected by the nuclear power plant accident, his feelings now that he has grown... I hope that even a little bit of what he wanted to say has been conveyed to the people in Cairns. 

My son enjoyed every day in Cairns surrounded by wonderful nature and warm people. 

He got to experience so many things he wouldn’t be able to otherwise. 

I am so thankful to those who organised this camp, those who supported this initiative, those in various locations who warmly welcomed our children, and those who listened to their speeches.

I believe that meeting you all was my son’s greatest treasure. 

Each moment he was shown kindness, sincerity and care.... that each precious moment is contributing to my son’s growth as a person. The warmth of people is something we can’t see with our eyes, but this is what is truly important.

Two weeks have passed since he returned to Fukushima. In our daily conversations, he uses English expressions here and there, like “YES!” and “Oh”. Haha

From that, I imagine how much h familiarised himself with English and enjoyed his time in Cairns. 

Learning about war was also significant. He took interest in war memorial ceremony on television. He shared with his friends about stories he heard of the devastation and cruelty of war, and expresses that he wants peaceful future. 

Finally, I really want to say thank you to the host family who welcomed my son warmly as their own: Omar, Melinda, Zahir and Asha (apologies from the translator if the spelling is incorrect). He said he really enjoyed the time with the host family, and it was a place of rest and relief. For all the places they have taken my son, the delicious food, for all the laundry... I don’t have enough words of thanks.

Thank you so much!

Thank you also to everyone at Smile with Kids.

Yua's mather  Maki Kanno

Thank you for supporting the preparations leading up to, and during the time in Cairns. 

I want to express my thanks to Maki, host families and everyone involved in the project.

Before the departure, it was reassuring to be able to hear testimonies from previous participants and meet Maki in person. I could send off my son without any worry because I could ask questions over emails and Messenger. It was helpful being able to get in touch with the host family in advance. It was reassuring for parents, and it built excitement for my son that it’s really happening. 

At the ‘departure ceremony’, my son seemed to make speech only when others have put their hands up to do it. However, at the ‘reporting meeting’ after the trip, he was very willing to say his thoughts, and I could see a big change. There were many opportunities to talk to people in Cairns and make speeches, and I felt that those experiences have shaped the change. 

I’m also grateful to his host family. It seems like he enjoyed the meals, the conversations and daily walks with the dog. On the ‘free day’, he talked about going to a market, taking a look at bunjee jumping site, and was given a go at selling sausages at their daughter’s school fundraiser sausage sizzle. My son said he would have liked another day of free day with his host family. At the same time, I appreciate the challenges around fitting in time amidst busy schedules. 

He was surprised by how big and glamorous Peaceboat passenger boat was.

The farm stay and hearing from various people at places they visited have created valuable opportunities to learn about something he never knew and to think more.

As for the timing of the respite camp...

My son tells me it was neither too hot nor too cold, and was not too cold to go into the sea. We apologise for the inconveniences when Taisei was feeling torn about going to Cairns as his school team proceeded to compete at the prefectural tournament. 

Many junior high school students in Japan are involved in extracurricular activities, like sports, and if their teams do well and get to play in prefectural tournament, the dates will likely overlap with the trip. For prospective participants who play sports, they may struggle to decide which one to prioritise, and subsequently choose not to apply to the Cairns program. However, in Taisei’s case, he had wonderful time in Cairns, so there is no regret in withdrawing from sports competition. 

Thank you for everything. We treasure this encounter and look forward to keeping in touch.

Taisei's mother   Mieko Kanno

Thank you for all your care during the camp. When my daughter came back, she was saying "I want to go back to Cairns", and I knew she had a good time and was very well looked after.
She started thinking about
 her future too, and at the parent-teacher interview she was mentioning that she wanted to go to a high school in Cairns and she wanted to help out Maki's team. 
Although it was a short time, she came back with a wider perspective, and she can now think about Fukushima and Japan from a different point of view. I appreciate that. 
Please look after Miko again when she happens to work in Cairns in the future.

From Miko's parent (Mrs.Chiharu Kanbayashi)


Today, our kids came back home safely. Thank you very much.
I saw the 8 students who reported in the meeting today, everyone looked very nice.

I realised that they grew up through their experiences.  
They told us that everyone in Cairns were very nice and they all had their individual say.
It was also good for them to learn about the uranium mining and the wars, which they could never learn in school in Japan. I appreciated that they had fantastic experiences, as well as the fact that my son could leave Fukushima for a while.
My family was exposed to radiation more than other students and a lump of an A2 level was detected in his thyroid (could be an issue in the thyroid), that is why we feel more anxious than the others.
The radioactive cecium was not found through the whole body counter, but found from our urine.
We try to be careful when we eat, but we actually had some opportunities to dine out.
The amount of radioactive cecium was less in the bodies of kids who went out of Fukushima for refresh camps than the kids who were too busy to go out doing the school activities in Fukushima. It makes me feel how important the refresh camps are.
The word “RECOVERY” waives our “ANXIETY” in Japan. In this situation, we are really grateful that you reached your hands out to us for support.
Maki and everyone else who supported us, thank you very much.
In Fukushima, people are severe to us, who talk our own idea about the things we feel dangerous for.(Actually my son had an experience to be told by his classmate not to talk in the class when they were learning about the radiation.) However during the refresh camps, he could mention whatever he felt and everyone received it as it was.
The nature in Australia was great and he was moved by it.
We appreciated that he could meet the beautiful people and nature.
Thank you so much.
Especially I am really grateful for Maki san. Thank you.
I am also grateful for the people who supported us.
When the disaster occurred, I believed the health and safety myths in Japan.
Soon after, I felt something weird and asked the city council to distribute the iodine tablets (Iodine is used for radiation emergencies to protect the thyroid gland against radioactive iodides), but they gave me a cold shoulder over the phone.
Meanwhile, I found that the staff and their families of a big hospital in Fukushima took those tablets.  
The people who helped us were not the government but the citizens.  
In Australia, he touched the warm hearts of everyone and had great memories.
Thank you very much!


From Yuuhi's parent (Mr or Mrs Watanabe)
I am glad that my daughter was able to take part in this Cairns Refreshment Camp. The first thing I felt was that she has learned how to interact with people. When she could not make herself understood in anothe
r language, I think she was trying to act more from her own will. 
As for the earthquake disaster, we weren't sure how we were supposed to be even if we were the victims, but after the camp, I think we got the strong message that nothing will change unless WE change. 
From the experience during the camp, she understood the importance of thinking from her own will, and that will be her treasure for the future. I am also pleased about the new friendship formed among the 8 children of different age and gender. 
Last but not least, I would like to say thank you to the host family who had a pet but yet cared about my daughter's animal allergy. Thank you so much for looking after my daughter.

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