FAMILIES IN MORAY are currently hosting 16 children who live in Belarus – one of the worst affected areas of the 1986 catastrophic nuclear power station accident at Chernobyl.
In terms of casualties and suffering it was the worst accident of its kind in history, the nuclear plant at Chernobyl releasing large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere that spread throughout much of Europe.
The life-long effects of the disaster are still being felt in many other parts of Eastern Europe, with a large number of children born since the disaster suffering from weakened immune systems.
Throughout Europe ‘Friends of Chernobyl’s Children’ groups have been created – and it is one such group in Moray that is currently hosting children from the stricken region.
Aged between seven and eight years, the youngsters arrived in Moray last week and have since settled in with host families around the region. A variety of events have been organised including a trip to the Scottish Whale and Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay on Monday, with further outings planned including a visit to try out ten-pin bowling in Elgin.
All of the children live in one of the most heavily contaminated areas of Belarus and are expected to spend a month in Moray annually for the next five years, with the Friends of Chernobyl’s Moray group co-ordinator Clare Cotton commenting: “Four of the children we have here are severely malnourished and this offers them some real respite.
“As well as giving them the chance of fresh air and good food, we provide the children with vitamins to take back home with them.”
Heart-warming images of the children having fun during their stay with host families – including that of Heldon & Laich councillor John Cowe – have been posted on the group’s Facebook page this week with Clare commenting “the smiles are all the rewards we need”.
Friends of Chernobyl Moray was set up in February as part of the wider national and international charity that targets children aged from seven to 13 from orphanages or disadvantaged homes in Belarus, one of the worst affected areas of the Chernobyl disaster.
Further information on the work of the charity can be found online.