Of radiation and other miseries.

Here I am. Against all expectations I am not writing from the Philippines. Right now, I am flying towards Abu Dahbi and write the finale of my year. I was waiting until now because the last days were just packed with too many decisions and I don’t want to write something that I have to revoke afterwards.

However, to explain the current situation I will try to tell the story in chronological order. After the seminar in Manila in February we returned to Lucena with loads of ideas on how to plan the summer for for the school kids. The original plan was to have 2 months of summer activities with a different one every day. We distributed the tasks amongst each other and developed an 8 week plan with the others. However, due to reasons that we were not told the plan was rejected and we were told that the new program will only be 4 weeks. This, however, is just a small update and has nothing to do with the reason why I am flying back.

On the 11th of March (2013) happened something that no one ever had imagined would happen. A catastrophe that is unpredictable. I couldn’t believe it at first. I woke up at around 3am and couldn’t fall asleep again so I spent some time talking to friends in Germany who were just enjoying their evenings. I wouldn’t have given this much thought if Malte didn’t come to me the next morning telling me that the entire Ring of Fire was on quake the previous night. The closest earthquake was only a couple kilometers away and was a 5.0.  That explained why I woke up during the night. The strongest quake was in Japan with a 9.0 on the Richter Scale. I quickly went online and checked all the news sources I could find.

A disaster that people will learn in school about in the coming years. A bloody piece of history was written that night with the blood of almost 26.000 people who died or went missing. Until today, I cannot believe what was happening in a country so close, and the pictures are still triggering shivers and a surreal feeling of a Hollywood movie. The wave of the tsunami was 22m high and it was like a miracle that we didn’t have any effects of the Tsunami in Lucena. In the beginning the quake and the destructive power of the tsunami was still the biggest problem. It was only slowly that the news started covering the effects on the nuclear power plant Fukushima Daiichi. We were all shocked.

So far so good, and it is all part of the story why I am 34,000 feet above the ground as of this writing. Everything that is still part of the story happened in the last week.

I had a lot of time to think about everything and decide what this all means for me. On the one hand there were no warnings for the Philippines by the German government and there is no acute danger like there was when Chernobyl blew up. In our situation the wind was blowing in another direction (However, news from yesterday proof that the wind is unpredictable as a Xenon-133 cloud arrived in Manila). However, there is still the risk that contaminated food, rain and radioactive clouds will bring radiation to the Philippines. In the beginning I wasn’t sure how to treat the situation. As I said, it was a situation that no one could have predicted in the beginning and it is still a situation that know one knows how it will end. I came to the conclusion for myself that I don’t want to be diagnosed with cancer in 30 or 40 years from now and reproach myself for not taking correct measures to see my possible nephews and grandchildren grow up, instead lying in bed and fighting against cancer. After almost a week I decided on the 19th of March that I will book a flight home and don’t take the risk. I am regretting this choice in a way that I cannot describe. But I am also glad and I can arrange it with my conscience that I am sitting in an airplane right now.

It might be a rather strange reason to come back early but it is only strange because such a situation is something that should have never happened. Again, we underestimated the destructive power of nature. It is different from political unrest or a pure earthquake/tsunami in which the consequences are visible, predictable and with foreseeable outcomes.

Therefore, my journey on the Philippines ends like this. I hope to see all the great people again. I wish Malte all the best with the summer program and hope it will turn out like we imagined and planned it. After the quake we were able to get a good and stable plan for the program and it should work out fine. He was my first brother and I was his first sibling. We had a great time together although we weren’t always of the same opinion.

With this I end the story,
yours Jan