The Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK) has been inviting groups of children in remission of cancer or other health problems for recuperative holidays since 1996.
The consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster are still very real; the contamination will continue to affect the population in Belarus in particular for years to come, resulting 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.
In Staffordshire the Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK) has two different branches that invite children of different ages (teenagers 16-18 years, younger children 10-12 years and young children 4-6 years who are accompanied by their mothers who are also very much in need of a break). The mothers and children come in the spring and spend up to 10 days with a local family, while the teenagers and younger children come to the UK during the school holidays, spending two weeks with local families and later as a group.
The groups are accompanied by an interpreter and doctor, who are available around the clock to support the host families – so, no need to speak Russian and you would be surprised how much you can communicate through mime!
The branches organise activities for the guests and host families, and on other days there is the opportunity to spend time with the children as a family. It is incredibly rewarding to get to know the children and see how they blossom during the period 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 to host is to be able to give the guests a warm welcome and be interested and enthusiastic to make the holiday an unforgettable experience for the children.
The following quotes illustrate how much the recuperative holidays mean to some of the guests, in this case mothers and young children who were hosted in Spring 2017:
“My daughter liked everything in England. She is already dreaming of going to England again.”(Larysa and daughter Darya, 5 years)
“Zakhar has greatly changed, he has become more independent. We have brought a lot of photographs, we have a lot of stories to tell our family and friends and a lot of impressions to share. We came home on Saturday and already on Sunday I was cooking lasagne for the family. Thank you very much for your care for our family.” (Irina and son Zakhar)
“Our first impression was that we were in a fairy tale. . . a very big thank-you to everybody who participated in organising such trips.” (Natalia and daughter Anhelina)
Even if you cannot host but would like to be involved in giving these children (and mums) a great time, or just to find out more about Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK), please contact them as they need people to help with fundraising or organising activities and outings.
If you know of anyone who might be interested, please pass the message on. Contact John and Julie Gater on 01782 535000 or 07816 842322, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Margie Haslop on 01785 280080, email email@example.com.
Find further information at www.chernobyl-children.org.uk/local-groups/endon-stoke