Natasha and Vadim, Mr. and Ms. Kobayahi

Photo | March 5, 2012

(LEFT) Natasha Popova (age 12) and Vadim Kuleshov (age 8) live in an institution in Veznova, situated in the contaminated region of Mogilov. Natasha was born with microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder in which a person's head is significantly smaller than normal for their age and sex. Vadim has a bone disease and a mental disorder. Since Chernobyl, there has been an increase in the number of children with physical or mental handicaps in surrounding areas. Due to economic and social demands, many parents are unable to care for their children and are forced to surrender their children to state institutions.

(RIGHT) Mr. and Ms. Kobayahi used to live along the 399 road in the Iitate district. Just before the Fukushima disaster, they had installed solar panels on their roof. On March 11, 2011, they planted the cherry tree featured in this photo to celebrate their grandson’s first birthday. Following the Daiichi nuclear meltdown, they were forced to move to Fukushima City.