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I have set up a new link in West Sussex (Chichester) this year We have booked to bring children from Borodyanka in Northern Ukraine to the UK for recuperation from the radiation and extreme poverty that haunts their lives.
In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power station exploded when a test went wrong. Radiation flooded across Europe with people who lived near the plant dying within days. A exclusion zone was set up a few days after the disaster and remains in place today. The radiation still comes from the nuclear plant and fills the air and soil in the areas near to the exclusion zone.
Boroyanka where the children will come from in April, is only 59 miles by road (much less as the crow flies) from the Chernobyl power station!
Not only do they live with breathing in the radiation, the majority of people love in extreme poverty.
Many homes are poorly constructed wooden houses with little insulation or heating, some with holes in the garden as toilet facilities. Other families are living in a single room in a block of pre fabricated flats which were only meant to be a short term solution to house those evacuated back in 1986. These single rooms house usually 2 generations and possibly 3 generations, all sleeping on the sofa, floor and sometimes children sleep in open drawers. Those living in the flats share communal kitchen and bathroom facilities with up to 15 other families.
The average household income is around £100 a month, yet food prices are the same as in the UK and clothing is more expensive than here! Therefore families grow as much as they can for food, with their diet mainly being boiled potatoes. In the winter they eat food that they have pickled during the summer as the temperatures drop to as low as -30! Luckily this winter so far is milder, with the temperature as I write this being -10! Still very cold when living in poorly insulated and non heated homes. Many families also eat smoked animal fat (not meat just the fat). It is only on special occasions that they can buy other food such as ham or fruit. When the children are in the UK they love the fruit as it is such a luxury.
Bringing the children to the UK is thought to add in excess of 2 years to their life expectancy and reduce the risk of thyroid cancer, which is riff in the areas surrounding the exclusion zone.
The children are brought over when they are pre puberty as this is when their thyroid glands are developing. This has been proven to be the most beneficial time.
I have added a you tube video on this page (see below, just under the photos, click on the picture of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station). It is part of a film made by another link of the charity. It is well worth watching. There are also parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 on you tube. See link below. If you are pushed for time watch the video on this page and then 4 and 5, these are the most informative and they even follow the children home and discuss how it has changed them.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIL3ytYNUkc&sns=em
Another fantastic you tube video is of Marian Stapley (volunteer Area Coordinator and Chair of the Portsmouth and Hayling Island link being interviewed in radio, whilst she is talking you can see the photos of the children from 2013. Click on the link below.
I hope these help you understand how these very proud people live, it is truly like going back in time to horse and carts but in a modern world with radiation thrown in to just devastate their lives.
We get no government or other funding and have to raise every penny to pay for the flights, visas and transportation costs for the children and also a leader from their local town, often an English teacher, which is a condition of the visa. This interpreter is on duty 24/7 for the whole month and their fee is £100! It would be more than that an hour if we used an interpreter from the UK! The leader goes on trips that we have during the stay, when we are able to get in for free.
The children are hosted in pairs in host families, who host the children at their own cost for the month. The children are hosted in pairs so that they have someone who speaks their own language with them. The children are not here for educational reasons, however they pick up a lot of English and go back to their school eager to learn more.
The leader in hosted in a family too, but separate from the children as she can then rest when not on the trips! This also helps the children integrate into the families better as otherwise they would use the interpreter to communicate with. The bond that these families build with these children in amazing. In my own experience, from the first time I hosted children with the Portsmouth and Hayling Island Link, I fell in love with the children (Katya and Oksana) and today I am in regular contact with them and cannot wait to visit them in the near future. I think of them as my own children now, as do many host families.
In 2015, taking into account the return flights, visas, transportation and a portion of the interpreter fees, I expect the cost of bringing a child to the UK to be in the region of £600 - £700 each.
We need to raise this amount of money by the end of February when we will have to pay for the flights. This is a tall order, so anything you are able to do to help with this we would be extremely grateful. Even after this we need to get together money for the following year, which will help to bring even more children as we will have had longer to fundraise.
Even small donations make the world of difference to us as a small charity, as they all add up.
We are also doing a sponsor a child to come to the UK option, where if you are able to fund all a child's costs we will tell the child that you have sponsored for them to come to the UK and you will get to meet them whilst they are here and you can keep in contact afterwards to if you wish.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our charity, if you would like to find out more then please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you on behalf of all of the children and families of Borodyanka, Ukraine.
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