Breath of fresh air for Chernobyl children in Blackheath

Halesowen News: Chernobyl children baking cakes (from left) Iliya Polonin (9), Ivan Pavluchenko (10), Polina Rozenko (12), Renata Puryshkina (8), Liya Spitsarava (9), Anna Mikushkina (9), Yana Nikitsyonak (12) and Anastasiya Nikifarenka )12). Chernobyl children baking cakes (from left) Iliya Polonin (9), Ivan Pavluchenko (10), Polina Rozenko (12), Renata Puryshkina (8), Liya Spitsarava (9), Anna Mikushkina (9), Yana Nikitsyonak (12) and Anastasiya Nikifarenka )12).

CHILDREN from Chernobyl have been enjoying fresh air and fun activities during a month-long stay organised through a Blackheath church.

Nine youngsters aged seven to 12 from the city of Mogilev and surrounding area in Northern Ukraine have stayed with families and visited tourist attractions including Drayton Manor and Cadbury World.

They have also taken part in activities, including a baking day, at Bethel Church, base of the Black Country Friends of Chernobyl Children.

On Monday the youngsters, all but two of whom have visited before, presented songs and dances to thank their hosts and the organisers before setting off back home today (Thursday).

Host to a seven-year-old boy, Vicky Jackson said the aim is for the children to visit each year for five years to improve their life expectancy.

Although it is 28 years since the Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion devastated a wide area of Belarus, the population is still affected by the radioactive fallout.

Mrs Jackson, from Halesowen, said: “Removing the children from breathing contaminated air and eating contaminated food can increase their life expectancy over a period of time that’s why we try bring them here annually for five years.”

Those children with eye sight problems have received free treatment courtesy of Boots during their visit and they are all sent home with a year’s supply of vitamins, as well as clothes and other items given to them by their hosts.

Mother-of-two Mrs Jackson added: “It’s a massive step for a seven-year-old to come here. The little boy who has stayed with us was very quiet and shy to begin with, but he came out of his shell and he’s loved playing on the Xbox.

“They are just really lovely children and so grateful for everything.”

It costs about £5,000 to fund the trip and the friends group runs fundraising events to cover the costs of the recuperative holidays.

They are looking for new host families and anyone interested should contact Mrs Jackson on 07784559036.

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