SIX impoverished children from the radiation hot-spot around Chernobyl are enjoying a break in Portsmouth.
The children, aged nine to 13, are visiting as part of a month-long respite break in the UK, organised by the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline. Their day out in Portsmouth saw them visit the D-Day Story museum, Spinnaker Tower, Portsdown Hill, and the Blue Reef aquarium and splash park. The trip was supported by businesses, with the children receiving a Local Haunts bus tour and entry to the aquarium for free.
Balaria Cooper, 41, a group leader with the charity and translator, said: ‘I had one of the children run up to me and say, “Wow this is so much in one day! It’s been great!”’
Balaria, who is originally from Svestapol, Ukraine, said: ‘When the kids arrive, they can be a bit shocked - none of them have been on a plane before, none of them have been abroad before. Many of them will never have a trip like this again.’
Natalie Horn, 26, chairwoman at the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, said: ‘Some of the kids we support on the trips don’t have running water - they don’t have flushing toilets, they have never had a running shower. And by escaping the radiation zone for just a month, the kids’ health later in life can be massively improved.’
The charity, which has been running for more than 28 years, finds families to accommodate the children for their stay in the UK. To be eligible for the trip children must live in a radiation hotspot and be unable to afford a trip outside their country. Over 800,000 impoverished children live in the radiation hot-spot, which covered Ukraine and Belarus when the nuclear power station exploded in 1986.
Steve Lunn, 51, the charity’s family liaison officer, said: ‘We’ve been told that when kids find out they will be coming to the UK, it’s like a bomb going off in the house, in terms of excitement.’
The children will return to Ukraine and Belarus on August 17, after days out to Legoland and Winchester Science Centre.