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SOS Children's Charity: Spring 2006 Newsletter


Caring for families in the wider community

Remembering Chernobyl - 20 years on

On 26th April 1986, there was a huge explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. An experiment, designed to check the safety of the reactor, had gone disastrously wrong. Tons of radioactive material were thrown into the air and blown across Europe.

70% of the fallout landed on Belarus, poisoning a quarter of its farmland and forests. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Most of the radioactive material will be in the ground in Belarus for hundreds of years.

In 1991, five years after the disaster, the United Nations asked governments for more help for Belarus and Ukraine. At the same time doctors in Belarus asked for help in giving children a break from their contaminated homeland.

SOS Children opened its first project in Borovljany on the outskirts of Minsk, the capital of Belarus, in 1995. Today, there are 13 family houses caring for nearly 100 orphaned and abandoned children. Within the project there is also an SOS Social Centre that works with the Minsk Oncological Hospital to help children and their families being treated for radiation sickness. The centre provides accommodation for children receiving treatment at the hospital.

Having fun through organised activities

During their stay, which can often last for more than four months, parents can join their children and care for them in a comfortable home environment. Trained staff are on hand to offer parents counselling and practical advice on how to cope as well as giving the children leisure and educational activities.

From the letter of Valentina Alehno: "I and my son Vladik (who is 2 years old) would like to say thank you for the help we got in the SOS Social Centre. My poor child was afraid of the medical procedures and scared of strangers. After being here, he became more communicative, less shy. We felt as if we were at home. I cannot think of a better place to help us recover."

Find out more about ways to help children like Vladik.

Relevant Countries: Belarus.

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