Appeal to find Diss families for Friends of Chernobyl’s Children

The group of children from Belarus who visited Diss in July 2015.

The group of children from Belarus who visited Diss in July 2015. - Credit: Archant

A charity in Diss, which brings children from Belarus to the area every year, is appealing for host families to help ensure its vital work continues.

The Diss and District branch of Friends of Chernobyl's Children was set up in 2001 to host a group of underprivileged children, affected by the 1986 Chernobyl explosion, each year.

During the month-long visit by the youngsters the charity organises a programme of events as well as medical checks.

The children generally visit for five years, from the age of seven to 11, before more children are given the opportunity to visit.

In light of the new cycle, organisers are looking for more families to come on board to ensure the scheme continues next year.

Committee member Kirsty Neve said: 'I got involved about five years ago when we were in the same situation.

'It's getting urgent now we have to ideally find six families for next year or we can't continue.'

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During the July visit the children spend Monday to Friday with the organisation attending day trips and learning English, with free time at the weekends with their host families.

Mrs Neve said: 'In an ideal situation the host family will have children but we have had older adults too. It really depends on the family.

'A few families will carry on next year but we've got to have at least eight or nine children to make it worthwhile. There are visas and a translator to pay for.'

The area in Belarus where the children are from still struggles to cope with contaminated food and water and many children suffer from health conditions as a result of the disaster.

Mrs Neve, from Wortham, said: 'I've been out to Belarus and I've seen how they live, it's a completely different world.

'From the time they arrive you see their whole colour changes. They are not used to having good food. They don't have the things which we take for granted.

'That's why I got involved, to show my kids what they have. Now my daughter does a fundraising event each year for them.'

'When Sascha first started staying with us she was shy and quiet, now she realises that if she works hard she can go to university and leave the town she lives in.'

To find out more call Kirsty Neve on 01379 890310 or email nessie1@sky.com