Chernobyl children’s joy at life on the ocean waves

Chernobyl Children's Life Line visitors enjoying a day out on The Solent with the charity Wetwheels
Chernobyl Children's Life Line visitors enjoying a day out on The Solent with the charity Wetwheels
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YOUNG people from the nuclear disaster-hit Ukraine enjoyed a day of fun in a power boat on the Solent.

Boating charity Wetwheels invited children being cared for by the Chichester branch of Chernobyl Children’s Life Line (CCLL) for some fast-paced action on the water – for the first time in their lives.

Geoff Holt, the founder of Wetwheels, said: ‘What a fantastic day with some really inspirational kids.

‘These guys genuinely have nothing in their lives.

‘They come from seriously impoverished backgrounds and hearing their back story about how the accident affected the lives of their parents, is truly heartbreaking.

‘Our aim at Wetwheels is to make the water accessible to everyone for fun and adventure so when we heard from CCLL, explaining how these young people had never been on a boat before, we jumped at the chance to help them experience something new and exciting and to hopefully inspire them to think more positively about their future.’

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened 30 years ago and it is predicted radiation from the accident will ultimately kill 4,000 people across several generations with many more suffering related illnesses and diseases.

More than 300,000 people were displaced by the accident.

One of the children, Maria Rafalska, said: ‘It was an amazing experience.

‘I loved driving the boat and touching the water. The water tasted salty.’

At home in the Ukranian town of Borodyanka, 11-year-old Maria shares two rooms with five family members including sisters, parents, grandfather and auntie.

They survive on £40 a month.

CCLL was established in 1991.

Groups were formed all over the UK to raise money to bring children to the UK for recuperative breaks of four weeks and more than 46,000 have been brought over to stay with host families since they started.

It costs £800 per child to bring them to the UK which includes all of their travel, visas, transport, insurance and interpreter costs.

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