AFTER almost a month in the Isle of Man, the 13-strong group of children from the area affected by the Chernobyl meltdown have headed home.
Each year Friends of Chernobyl’s Children Isle of Man bring over a group of children to the island for a packed programme of activities and health checks.
The visits allow the children to leave the seriously contaminated environment in their own country and to detoxify their immune systems, still affected by the aftermath of the meltdown of the number four reaction at the power station on April 26, 1986. The disaster saw 190 tons of highly radioactive waste material released into the atmosphere.
Dental, optical and, if necessary, health checks are provided and the children live with host families during their month-long stay. The annual visits are organised by Norman and Joan Rivers, of FOCC.
The youngsters take part in a varied programme of activities, both educational and recreational. This year, it included cookery sessions, visits to the Manx Museum, Laser Blast and the Curraghs Wildlife Park, plus there was the opportunity to go horse riding and swimming. There was the usual tree planting ceremony towards the end of the month, which saw the children plant a tree to commemorate their visit. A farewell party was held at the Manx Legion, in Market Hill, Douglas, on Thursday, and the following day the youngsters flew home.
This year’s visitors were: Kostyia Zhavarankav, Daniel Laskauniou, Illia Ivanov, Valeryia Kozlova, Anna Kalina, Masha Kalina, Arina Starvoitava, Nastyia Aron, Anna Ruskaya, Diana Astapenka, Anastasyia Aliaksandrava, Anastasyia Kotava and Alisa Berazovskaya.
The FOCC says: ‘When the children go home, they have usually put on weight and have colour in their cheeks. Their suitcases are filled to bursting with warm clothes, shoes, toiletries, vitamin pills and other items. Their parents and guardians have told us of their gratitude to the Manx people for giving their child hope for the future. Our help continues when the children return to Belarus. The Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (Isle of Man) provides additional humanitarian aid for the children and their families in order to maintain the benefits of their visit throughout the year. It has been proven that care of this nature substantially boosts the children’s shattered immune systems and enables them to enjoy a healthier, fuller and longer life.’