Although the radiation explosion at the nuclear plant in Chernobyl took place over 30 years ago, many children in Belarus are still suffering from its after effects.
Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (Isle of Man) was formed by Norman Rivers with the help of his wife Joan, in 1999 to provide Isle of Man family placements for underprivileged children age 7 -12 years from the Mogilev region of Belarus for at least one month each year & over a five year period. In the last 20 years the charity has brought 94 children to the IOM
The charity meets the full costs of these visits, which will include all the travel expenses as well as arranging optical, dental, hearing tests and were needed health checks. All of these are provided freely by the health professionals.
Dentist Tracey Bell has looked after the dental care of many of the children over the past 20 years. One of the children in the first group was inspired at 8 years old by her first visit to Tracey’s surgery to become a dentist herself.
This she has achieved & after studying at Vitebsk Medical University for 3 years qualified as a dentist & has just completed a further 5 years internship at a Mogilev clinic.
The children benefit from the charity’s involvement in many ways which includes the provision of clothing, shoes & a year’s supply of vitamin tablets provided by a local pharmacist for each child which helps to increase their immune systems which are damaged by the effects of the radiation
Many of our children come from the village areas known as the “dead zone” which is still highly contaminated
The host families, who offer their homes for one month, are all volunteers & no one involved with the charity is paid; all give freely of their time and talents.
The charity organises many activities & outings for the children during the month from Monday to Friday. The itinerary includes swimming, tennis, horse riding, gymnastics, Manx heritage sites, beaches. The month ends with a Farewell concert by the children & a party which is hosted by the Manx Legion
The charity use minibuses to get the children to their various activities around the island. The Sea Cadet Unit in Tromode is kindly loaned to the charity for the month for use as the daily meeting point.
The children spend the evenings & weekends with their host families.
Some of our former children are now teachers, engineers, builders or at college.
Some are married & have begun to have families of their own.
They all say that by being given the opportunity to visit the Isle of Man, not only benefitted their health but gave them hope for a brighter future & that they will never forget the kindness & generosity of the Manx people.