Chernobyl Children Life Line is a national charity set up to bring help and relief to children suffering from the after effects of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and the subsequent economic situation in Belarus.
The Belarusian people now live in a country where 90% of the land is contaminated for thousands of years, so far as anybody really knows. Belarus is an agricultural country, but because of their highly polluted ground, they now cannot sell their produce. Almost everyone grows their own food though, despite the contamination - starvation can be keenly felt, the radiation, etc., is invisible.
Every year children from Chernobyl arrive in our area for a recuperative holiday of almost five weeks. They live in Belarus, a country whose southern border is close to the Chernobyl Power Plant where, two decades years ago, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred.
Belarus received 70% of the fall-out, simply because of the wind and weather patterns on the day of the disaster. Their land now is contaminated for many thousands of years. People must grow their own food, albeit in contaminated ground, and the effect particularly on the children and young people, is disastrous.
Why bring children here?
The boost to health produced by a month away from their contaminated environment, is enormous. We see the children blossom before our eyes – their hair changes and becomes shiny, the dark red circles around their eyes fade and they begin to smile. We always maintain that their holiday begins in the toilets at Gatwick Airport! Everything is so bright and white, and there are so many exciting gadgets such as flush toilets, soap dispensers, knobs on the taps which, when pressed produce lovely warm water – and the hand dryers?! Wow!
The children have never seen the sea (theirs is a land locked country) or a mountain (Belarus is very flat), or a swimming pool. The children just love Europa Pool, and every evening finds the majority of host families with `their` children at the baths. Also we have such a choice of lovely, nutritious food here. Fruit is a particular favourite, especially bananas – they go bananas for bananas!
Part of the reason for the holiday is that the children should visit a dentist and optician. We are very grateful for the services, given freely, by many dentists, and by Specsavers in Birkenhead, who help us every year. Dental treatment is much needed, children often arrive with abscesses. Some children have been to Arrowe Park Hospital for multiple extractions under general anaesthetic. The dental treatment in Belarus is many, many years behind the times and the pain free treatment is for those who can afford it. But the children are very stoical.
We try to give them as many experiences as possible – Chester Zoo, Blue Planet, Deeside Ice Rink, New Brighton, the Crocky Trail, Liverpool Museum, the Art Gallery, Rhyl Sun Centre… and anywhere else we can think of. It is literally the holiday of a lifetime, and the children take home with them 30k of luggage containing a multitude of gifts which will help their families over the coming months.
The Gideons give every child a New Testament in Russian, and it`s wonderful that since the ministry started, 600 of these have gone into Belarus, one with every child, and we praise the Lord with all of our hearts for his faithfulness, provision and protection, and we commit these children, and the people of Belarus, living in a now blighted land, into his loving care.
Cynthia and Peter Hinton.