Host homes sought for children of Chernobyl

• Mums and children from the 2016 Chernobyl Children’s Project with interpreter Valentina.

The Chernobyl Children’s Project (Endon and Stoke Group) is seeking host families to allow children in remission of cancer to visit the UK for a recuperative holiday.

The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster has resulted in higher than normal incidences of cancer, serious illnesses and deformities among children that were born long afterwards. A recuperative holiday in the UK gives the children a much needed boost to their damaged immune systems for up to two years. The Chernobyl Children’s Project was formed more than 20 years ago and has hosted well over 500 children during this period.

The children are hosted by local families and the Endon group organises activities for the children (and host parents) and also gives support to the host families. Last year the project hosted four young children (in remission) and their mums, who were also in great need of a break, for three weeks in the spring. In August they hosted 16 teenagers (also in remission) for four weeks.

The project is looking for a few more families who would like to welcome one mum and one young child in their home for 10 days between May 27 and June 17. The groups spend the first half of their recuperative holiday with one family and then move on to a second family. The group is accompanied by an interpreter who is available around the clock to support the families and children. It is incredibly rewarding to get to know the children better and see how they blossom during the period that they spend in the UK, in an uncontaminated environment, eating healthy food and doing fun things.

What makes a good host family?

Host families are drawn from a wide background, from families with children to retired couples who have a spare room available. The most important requirement is to be able to give the guests a warm welcome, be interested and have an enthusiasm to make the holiday an unforgettable experience for the guests. There is a variety of organised group activities and other days you have the opportunity to do with your guests what suits you and them.

There is no need to speak Russian because the interpretor is available during all the group outings and by telephone. You would be surprised how much you can communicate through mime! If you cannot host but would like to be involved in giving these kids and mums a great time, the project also needs people to help with raising funds or organising activities and outings.

Liudmilla and son Stas, who were hosted in Spring 2016, said:

“We were so cordially welcomed after the arrival, we understood that these people are like one big family, they are ready to help not only their own relatives and friends but people from another country. We loved all the trips and outings. Stas loved all the playgrounds. In my opinion everything was super.”

Svetlana and Artsiom said:

“We enjoyed living with our families. It was interesting to learn about their way of life, to meet the members of their families. We could see that everybody was interested in us and wanted to make our visit useful and memorable. I was convinced again that there are a lot of kind people in the world who are ready to help other people who found themselves in difficult life situation.

“Thank you for helping us realise that life goes on (after illness), for teaching us to live on and not to look back.”

Vera and daughter Lilia added:

“We were ­sorry to say goodbye, because they (the families) have become very dear to us – like relatives and friends.”

If you are interested in hosting, meetings will be held on March 8 and April 19 when you can hear more about what the Chernobyl Children’s Project entails (without any commitment).

Please contact Julie or John Gater, coordinators of the Endon Group since 1996, who will be able to give you more details about this information meeting.

Call 01782 535000 or 07816 842322 or email julie.ccp@gmail.com