A local charity we’ve featured regularly on Feelgood Saturday is the Billericay & South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, which welcomes a dozen children whose health has been affected by the after-effects of the 1986 nuclear disaster to the UK each year for a recuperative holiday.
Six girls and six boys from the Gomel area of Belarus arrived earlier this week and I had the pleasure of meeting them along with their leaders and the charity’s organisers at a BBQ in Stock, where I discovered that all the children have spent time in hospital with leukaemia or other blood related issues.
The Link’s Co-Chair, Matt Craig-Greene, began by explaining why the holidays are so important:
I struggled to pronounce single words in Belarusian, so I felt put to shame by Anna Dzianisouskaya’s brilliant command of English together with that of the group’s interpreter, Alesia Kirejeva. Plans are already under way for next year’s holiday, and Programme Organiser Gaynor Manthorpe explained that one of the most important ways you can help is by considering hosting two of the children – helping to give them what will literally be the holiday of a lifetime:
A couple of years ago I had the honour of meeting one of the firefighters working at the plant when the nuclear reactor ignited – a battle which claimed the lives of many of his friends and colleagues as they fought to prevent what is still the worst nuclear power plant accident in history from becoming even worse. You can hear the fascinating story of Petr Makarenko – a true hero – here.