HISTORY

Chernobyl, An Environmental Disaster

Chernobyl lies 80 miles north of Kiev in the Northern Ukraine.

On the 26 April 1986 the No 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station overheated, exploded, then went in to meltdown.

This was the world's worst nuclear accident and released 190 tons of highly radioactive waste material into the atmosphere exposing the people of Chernobyl to radioactivity many times greater than that from the explosion of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
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The Children

Through direct exposure from the atmosphere and indirect exposure through the food chain, children in the Chernobyl area received a dose of radiation 40 times above permissible levels. The number of incidences of thyroid cancer is up 3000 per cent and it is estimated that over the next 15-20 years over 40,000 children in Belarus will contract the disease.

In Belarus cancer of the thyroid is so prevalent that the scar left after a thyroid operation is now chillingly referred to as a Belarussian Necklace, thus marking them forever as Chernobyl's victims.

There has also been an increase of 800% in the incidence of cancers in children living near to the reactor plus there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of babies born with severe physical deformities and mental disabilities.

There are so many other radiation related health crises occurring in the region that for the first time in Belarussian history, the death rate is HIGHER, than the birth rate.

Treatment of disease is difficult in Belarus due to the lack of proper medication and equipment and even simple medicines like aspirin and antibiotics are expensive and difficult to obtain. Recent research shows that over 90% of children suffer from vitamin deficiency.

A Month of Love

The main thrust of the charity's work is to bring the children away from the seriously contaminated environment in their own country in order to detoxify their immune systems and to provide dental, optical & if necessary, health checks.

During their month's stay in the IOM the children live with host families who provide a friendly stable environment, nourishing food and lots of loving care. The charity meanwhile organises a varied programme of activities, both educational & recreational.

A lot of these activities would not be available to them in their own country.

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 & 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.
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