On the 26th of April 1986 Chernobyl was the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster when an explosion at a newly built nuclear power plant unleashed 200 times more radioactivity than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs and affected forever the lives of 7 million people. That explosion released just 3% of the radioactive material in the Chernobyl reactor into the atmosphere; the remaining 97% , contained only by a deteriorating concrete shell, remains inside the damaged reactor and continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous “ticking time-bombs”.
Meet the Children
Cardiac Programme, Kharkiv Ukraine
Four-year-old Artem has come a long way in a year!
War refugee Artem received lifesaving open-heart surgery in December as part of our Flying Doctors Cardiac Mission. He has already made a strong recovery. The past year has seen great changes in Artems life, from a desolate orphan wandering a war torn country to having a fully functioning new heart and a new, safe, loving home. This is Artem’s story.
Community Care Programme, Belarus
Lida and Nadezha
Nadezhda was 19 years old, single, and had just given birth to a seriously disabled girl. When the authorities took Lida away from her, she started a six year “war” to get her daughter back. And Chernobyl Children International was there to help.
Today Lida is 8 years old and lives in one bedroom of a two bedroom flat in Minsk, Belarus. Mother and daughter share quarters with her grandmother, two aunts, and a cousin. Nadezhda compresses Lida’s chest so that she can suction out mucus.
Nursing Programme - Vesnova
Yana has pronounced stereotypical institutionalised behaviour including consistent rocking, hitting herself on the head and sticking her fingers in her eyes. Daily tablets control the epilepsy but dealing with the repetitive activity needs one-on-one time.
There’s a wonderful simplicity in helping to break the habit – exercise, playing, singing – distraction! With the right physiotherapy care and time, she could walk. But the world moves slow for Yana– and it may pass Yana by before she’s given the opportunity.
The Outreach Volunteer
Trina, a volunteer from Dublin, became involved with Chernobyl Children International after seeing a documentary on RTE about the effects of the disaster on the area’s children. She emailed the head office to see what she could do to help, and found herself taking a lead role in fundraising and organising Rest and Recuperation holidays for Belarusian children.
After a few years of volunteering, Trina had the opportunity to visit Belarus and see for herself the communities her fundraising and volunteering efforts had helped.
Seven hundred thousand men were conscripted into the Chernobyl area to “liquidate” or “blot out” the released radiation from the Chernobyl Nuclear accident. The selfless efforts of these “liquidators”—miners, soldiers and firemen—are unparalleled in history.
Sacrificing themselves, they prevented a potential nuclear explosion that could have killed hundreds of thousands across Europe.
The Bee Keepers
Ninety-nine percent of the land in Belarus has been contaminated to above internationally acceptable levels as a result of the Chernobyl explosion. The contamination will not fade: plutonium, one of the radioactive elements released, has a half-life of 24,400 years.
The original 30-kilometre contaminated exclusion zone has now been expanded to 70 kilometres. This expanded zone is called ‘Death Valley’ by the locals. It is the world’s most radioactive environment, in which 2,000 towns and villages will lie eerily silent and uninhabited forever.
The Medical Volunteer
Chernobyl Children International funds a Cardiac Programme in partnership with the Novick Cardiac Allliance that sends volunteer cardiac surgeons, nurses and specialists on missions to Ukraine and Belarus to undertake life-saving surgeries.
In March 2008, in collaboration with the Novick Cardiac Alliance, CCI sent the first cardiac team to Kharkiv, Ukraine. Volunteers were shocked by the hospital’s surgical equipment, most of which dated from World War II and was in poor repair and general disarray.