Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sadness over last Yorkshire visit for the children of Chernobyl

December 23. 2007

Sadness over last Yorkshire visit for the children of Chernobyl

FOR a small band of children from a forgotten part of the former Soviet Union, East Yorkshire has become a second home.
Christmas will be tinged with sadness as an extraordinary effort by a mother and daughter team which has allowed the young people from Belarus precious weeks of breathing unpolluted air and eating clean food comes to an end.

None of the children was born when on April 26, 1986, the No 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the northern Ukraine overheated, exploded, and went into rneltdown.

But the radiation from the world's worst nuclear accident still affects everyone in the area – and will for another 24,000 years.

For the past nine years groups of children have been coming to East Yorkshire for holidays of up to a month from Mogilev, in Belarus, local families putting up them up.

But this Christmas is the final group respite visit, as the charity set up by mother and daughter Jill and Beth Quarmby can no longer afford the mounting costs.

The story began in 1999 when a passing reference was made at Beth's school assembly to the Belarus children's shockingly low life expectancy.

It struck a chord and Beth, then just 14, was determined to help, and she roped in her mother Jill.

Beth said: "When I discovered what they had and what we had, I wanted to try and do what I could to help.

"When they first arrived and came through the airport they looked very ill – their eyes gave it away. Over the nine years we have seen quite a big progression in their health.

"They are beautiful children, willing to join in but they do get tired very quickly because their immune system is damaged."

Although it is the very last Christmas that such a big group will come across, private visits will continue and the pair have pledged to support all the children until they are 18.

Beth said: "There is a massive sense of pride and achievement and I adore seeing the children when they visit and run to you and just want to cuddle you constantly. It is absolutely wonderful."

Mrs Quarmby said: "We are very ordinary people and we just decided to try and help. I think it inspires other young children and I think Beth is an inspiration.They have become part of a big family and Beth is sister to them all."

The first group of 16 children came the summer after the Chernobyl acident and for four more after that, a second group of 23 then visiting for three years.

Yesterday the children were visiting the crew at RAF Leconfield, before going out for lunch.

One visitor, Olga, 15, is staying with the Quarmbys in Ruston Parva, near Driffield, along with her 10-year-old sister Katsya.

Poignantly she says her sister is often ill in the winter, but feels better after a stay in Britain.

The scientific evidence is that one month's respite care gives a child an extra two years of life.

At home the sisters live in a small flat in a bleak high-rise bloc
k along with their mother and grandmother.

Christmas is celebrated on January 7 with a single present, and they are thrilled by the much more lavish affair here – especially the lights on the houses.

When Olga first saw the giblets cooking on the stove she thought it was Christmas lunch. "She couldn't believe it when I opened the oven door," said Beth.

Chernobyl is synonymous with environmental disaster and in demonstrating the potentially devastating impact of nuclear technology.

Even now the reactor continues to leak its poison into the atmosphere and when the wind blows north it re-contaminates Belarus.

Translator Tamara Doroshkova, who is accompanying the group, says many people suffered thyroid problems and many young children had leukemia: "We begin to forget and the whole world begins to forget about Chernobyl.

"We just live. We have no solution to the problem."

More about Children of Chernobyl:

Families Dery Anti-Nuke Web Site
Sadness over last Yorkshire visit for the children of Chernobyl
Street Collection
Chernobyl fly in for Chrstmas
Chernobyl 20 years on
Belarusians deprived of their last benefits
Earn your Christmas Dinner with a swim or run
Belarus aid to set sail
Udall: Najavo 'cancer-free' before uranium


Turid Sandberg Ihle said...

It is such a damned shame that efforts such as this will be closed down due to lack of money. What is the rest of the world doing? Only a couple of weeks away from the pollution will give the children 2 years more to live.

I don't intend to take away people's Christmas spirit - HOWEVER - we should remember these children when we open our Christmas presents and enjoy our Christmas dinner. I encourage every person in the western world to start working with similar projects in their own countries, alternatively - donate money to the projects that are already existing right now - so there will hopefully be possibilities for more children next year.

There is no time to lose.

Merry Christmas everyone,

Turid Sandberg Ihle

hybreed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lise J.Gregersen Awada said...

It is exstremely sad to read about this situation. Those innocent childreen in Tjernobyl, not even born when the Tjernobyl explosion happened, lose their only hope to get away on a holliday, away from this radiation area for a few weeks.I wish the mony will come up fast, in one or another way.
And let us really hope that the year 2008 will be a year for people and groups all around the world to join each other, and work for a better life for all the creatures on earth, and for a green energy replacement, so destructive nuclear energy is not needed enymore. Step by step. It is possible!

Lise J.Gregersen Awada said...

It is sad to see that a fine, importent project like this have to close because there is no money for it, I really hope that somhow the money will return for this project and those innocent childred again can look forward to a break of and their holliday away from the nuclear area.
And that the year 2008 will be the year for explotion of new groups working togheter for a planet of green, cleaner energy like sun/vind/water energy. So we don,t have to face destructions like this in the future. It will be a long, hard fight, but we must take it toghether.

Turid Sandberg Ihle said...

Dear Lise!

Your thoughts and ideas reflect my own totally. I also totally understand the problem worldwide with regards to the present sources of energy - however - that only means that each and every country will have to put some money in research particulary research aiming to develop alternative sources of energy. I have a strong feeling that the lack of funding for this type of recearc is because no one can really make lots of money on natural resources, like wind, sun and other types of energy. Not enough money to make on such development.

On the other hand: We're all on this planet together, whether we're rich or poor. It's my hope that those who sit on a huge pile of monetary resources, will some time realize that if they don't put their money where their mouth is, we're all passanger on the same sinking ship. When it comes down to it, if we don't have an inhabitable planet, it does not matter how much money you've got piled up.

I particularly liked your comment regading alternative energy sources!