FAMILIES in Halesowen are being urged to host an ill child from the area devastated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
For twenty years children from Belarus and Ukraine have been staying at homes in Halesowen for a week during the summer but new families are needed to keep the scheme going.
The fall out from the April 1986 disaster created countless cases of cancers and genetic mutations in the population as well signalling a massive economic decline.
Ann Becke, from Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, said “I need new hosts for this year’s visit which is due to take place in August 2 to August 30 but need to identify hosts early who could help out for one, two, three or four weeks.
“We need to identify families as soon as possible as they will need to have CRB checks beforehand.
“We hopefully can continue to serve the Halesowen area for people who want to support the children of Chernobyl.”
As well as the physical problems victims have there is a social stigma of being “an exposed person” of the radiation and it will be 20,000 years before the land around Chernobyl will be fit for human habitation.
Latest figures show only six per cent of children in Belarus are not affected by some form of radiation damage due to the chronically infected food chain.
Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline was set up to give these children respite care away from the daily bombardment of radiation.
Mrs Becke, who has help host children for 20 years said, said: “We are a completely voluntary organisation and all money raised goes directly to the children to pay for airfares to bring them here for four weeks. According to experts, a four-week holiday in a clean environment reduces radiation levels in a child’s body by 50-80 per cent.
“It has been scientifically proven, however, that 4 weeks here with clean food and fresh air can improve their immune systems by two years.”
She added: “If those who cannot host families perhaps make a small donation towards their airfares. We would be happy to talk to anyone who is interested in helping us continue to help these children as we are a voluntary organisation we can only survive with your help.”
For more information phone 01384 877220.