Families offer hope for Chernobyl children

Youngsters from Belarus who spent a month with host families in the Chet and Waveney area during las

Youngsters from Belarus who spent a month with host families in the Chet and Waveney area during last years visit. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A plea for people to host one or two children from Belarus still affected by the Chernobyl disaster has resulted in offers of help from people across the region.

The Chet and Waveney Link of the Chernobyl Children's Life Line (CCLL) urged individuals or families who would be available in June to host the children on their four-week respite holiday to come forward.

Alison Stannard who runs the local link of the CCLL said she had been in contact with some 17 families and individuals willing to host or help in some other way.

Last year was the group's first in operation and brought over seven children from Belarus who stayed with families in Beccles, Lowestoft, Hales and Norwich, taking part in trips and activities organised by the CCLL.

She had hoped to bring over eight children, but if all goes well, thanks to the support from local people, 10 children may now be able to come to the UK.

The children, aged nine to 11, come from areas of Belarus badly affected by the radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster.

While the radioactive cloud spread as far west as Norway and the UK, 75pc of the fallout landed on Belarus covering 90pc of its land area and the lives of many children in Belarus and Ukraine continue to be affected by the disaster.

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The CCLL has found that one month away from the contamination, eating nourishing food, drinking clean water and breathing clean air improves their health and gives their immune systems a chance to recover.

It also gives the children a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an experience they will never forget.

The children are accompanied by an interpreter, often their school teacher.

Mrs Stannard said the group was now well on its way to reaching its fundraising targets through donations, book sales, raffles and other events.

She said: 'It costs around £650 to bring one child from Belarus to the UK for a month.

'This covers the cost of air fares, visa, insurance, clothing, footwear, vitamins, activities and contribution towards the costs for their interpreter.

'This means that our Link and supporters need to raise between £5,000 and £6,500 to bring eight to 10 children on this year's visit and we are on the way toward achieving this.'

If you think you could help by hosting or support in any other way, contact Alison Stannard on 01508 549047 or email her at astannard@uwclub.net

Have you got a story for us? Email lynn.crombie@archant.co.uk or call 01502 712060.