Chernobyl children enjoy month of activities during visit with Waveney and Chet link
- Credit: Archant
A group of children from an area of Belarus affected by the Chernobyl disaster have spent a month staying with host families in Suffolk and Norfolk.
The trip has been organised by the Chet and Waveney Link of the Chernobyl Children's Life Line (CCLL), and the eight children and their group leader are from the Staroe Selo village in the Brest region of Belarus.
Although the children, who are aged eight to 10, are not sick, they do live in areas that have suffered greatly from the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster. And 30 years on the situation is still affecting second and third generation children.
During their visit, Dima, Andrei, Uliyana, Alesia, Katya, Anna, Dasha and Vika have been staying with families in the Beccles and Loddon areas and have enjoyed a range of trips and activities, as well as health check ups.
These included crabbing in Walberswick, a trip to High Lodge in Thetford Forest, learning about food with Tesco's Farm to Fork trail, a trip on the Coastal Voyager in Southwold, an activity morning at Ringsfield Eco Centre, a pottery session, trip to Beccles Museum and Africa Alive! as well as a dip at Beccles Lido, and more.
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It is the third time a group of children have visited with the link, which was started back in 2014 by Alison Stannard.
She said: The majority of these children will never have the opportunity to leave their village again, let alone have the opportunity to go abroad.
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'Four weeks breathing clean air, eating nourishing food and drinking clean water can rebuild the children's immune system to such a degree that it can take up to two years to return to the current levels after their return home.
'This can help to extend the children's life expectancy which has already been severely compromised by living with the after effects of the Chernobyl disaster.'
The youngsters received free sight tests and dental treatment from Observatory The Opticians in Beccles and John G Plummer and Associates dental surgeons in Caister.
And while in Caister, the group were hosted for the day by the junior school and were looked after by the headteacher and pupils.
The children arrived on June 4 and will be returning to Gatwick on Sunday, July 2, to fly back to Minsk airport, where they will have a five hour journey back to their homes.
It costs around £650 to bring one child from Belarus to the UK for one month, and the link relies on donations from individuals, businesses and organisations to help raise the money.
In 2014 and 2015 Simon Peck, landlord of The White Horse in Chedgrave, together with his staff and customers supported the link by raising over £4,000.
In the last 12 months, Ian Willis the landlord of The Butcher's Arms in Beccles, along with staff and customers have raised over £5,000 through holding regular fundraising events such as chocolate bingo and race nights.
The Butcher's Arms will also be hosting a farewell party for the children tonight.
During their stay, the group was also loaned a minibus to get out and about by the Great Yarmouth Squadron Air Cadets, and was given free travel by First Bus.
A welcome party was held at The Waveney House Hotel in Beccles, hosted by Dan and Maria Cripps and attended by the Beccles mayor Richard Stubbings and deputy mayor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw. The children were each presented with a gift of a Beatrix Potter soft toy by Mr Stubbings.
Mrs Stannard said: 'We are very grateful to all of the people who have helped and supported us to make this year's visit such a success.
'We always have need for new hosts and supporters, and anyone whop is interested can contact me by email at email@example.com.'
The children are also given new clothes and some basic medical items to take home, as well as a year's supply of vitamins for themselves and their siblings.