This year, Lockdown played a very stressful part of all our lives. But for the victims of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster, Lockdown is for life. This Christmas, so many gifted children still live trapped, isolated, almost hopeless lives in bleak institutions.
Meet Kayta. Belarusian police officers came to her rescue after she had been spotted wandering desolately by locals in a little village known as Brobruisk.
Having noticed her ambling aimlessly, frightened, and alone, locals feared for the child’s safety. After monitoring her movements and on seeing her deteriorating health, they had no choice but to report the young girl’s presence to the police.
When questioned by the authorities, the teenager had little recollection of her life before – she seemed to have no identity, she didn’t even know her own name. It is widely believed she had been thrown out of a moving car and abandoned by her parents as they could not cope with Katya’s disability.
With no other option, but to place the young girl in institutional care, the police signed her over to the state naming her ‘Katya’ on all her documentation. And so began Katya’s life in isolation, segregated from the rest of the world.
Since the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster over 34 years ago, many children are born with intellectual and physical disabilities and genetic deformities as a result of the radioactive fallout. Unable to cope with the life of caring for the needs of their high dependency children, many families are left with no other option but to place their children into the care of the State.
We cannot turn our backs on children like Katya who have been locked away in institutions for many years.
These talented children and deserve a free and independent life. We strive to unlock their potential and to help them live a full and independent lives outside of the walls of an institution.
Katya is a social butterfly, who loves to mix with others, and is a talented self-taught artist. Her art is evocative, portraying her life in a poignant way. Katya’s paintings and drawings allow her to explore the world outside the walls of the institution and gives her an outlet, a way of accessing the wider world.
To help children like Katya to thrive, CCI has pioneered a Deinstitutionalisation Programme which offers vulnerable children alternatives to institutional care. Our focus is on ensuring that these children and young adults are given the life-skills training that is needed to afford them every opportunity to live a normal life. This all helps to advance their assimilation into nearby communities at adulthood and enables these children to live a life free from incarceration. Katya should have the right to live her life how she chooses. She should be free to finally feel at home. But she is still locked away behind the walls of an institution.
This Christmas help us to unlock the gates for institutionalised children like Katya and give them the key to open up a world of limitless possibility.