The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power accident in history. But although its effects spread across Europe, most of us in the UK have now forgotten about the accident.
In Belarus however, where 70% of the radioactive fallout occurred, the people are still suffering from the radiation nearly 30 years after the accident. It is Belarusian children who are most affected by their toxic environment and we can help them resist serious illness by offering them a few weeks of fresh air and clean food in the UK.
The Chernobyl Children Life Line project brings around 300 children to the UK each year, and is in need of host families in and around Newbury who would be willing to look after two 9 – 11 yr old children for 10 days in July (exact dates tbd). The trip includes group activities and day trips, giving the children a chance to have fun and recuperate.
It is important for as many children as possible to leave their contaminated homeland in the summer, as dust during this time of year causes radiation levels to rise. Fires that raged uncontrolled for 10 days after the disaster meant that some 80% of Belarus was carpeted with highly radioactive dust. The long half-lives of many of the radioactive materials distributed in the fallout mean that radioactivity levels will not drop for decades at least.
This means that children are still being affected by illnesses caused by eating food grown in contaminated soil, and drinking contaminated water. As well as this, genetic issues are being passed down from survivors who were evacuated late from the area. Doctors in Belarus say that recuperative holidays to the UK boost the children’s immune systems for at least two years. They can also significantly reduce the amount of radioactive caesium which has built up in a child’s body.
About a third of the children brought to the UK are in remission from cancer or leukaemia, and many come from some of the most contaminated parts of the country. There are still many children living in tiny rural villages, sometimes just a few miles from the Chernobyl plant. These children may not be ill yet, but their future is bleak if they continue to live in such a radioactive environment. A happy, healthy holiday in the summer may give them a better chance.
Questions about hosting
There will be many events based in Newbury but it is fine for host families to be in surrounding villages as long as they can get the children to the events. Host families tend to get to know each other very well over the weeks in advance of the visit and often work out their own plans to help with lift sharing etc.
CCLL requires its own CRB checks and these are usually done by Mark Fulker when he visits each family at home to do basic health and safety checks.
The children will be part of your family for their visit so they will share all meals with you except when they need a packed lunch for an excursion to the seaside.
For more information, please contact Mark and Joanne on 01635 226401, or visit www.ccll.org.uk/newbury