helping the Gomel weenies

A Chernobyl children’s charity determined to make a difference

The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 was the world’s worst nuclear accident. We’ve all heard about it - the name itself has become a byword for disasters. But that was a quarter of a century ago, wasn’t it? Sure, some areas are uninhabitable - you might have heard various horror stories of mutated vegetation and irradiated soil - but the disaster has, well, sort of finished, hasn’t it? They’ve patched up the reactor, some brave souls have moved back into the zone, and things are moving on. Ukraine, Belarus and all those other countries are OK, right?

Wrong. Thousands of tonnes of radioactive material don’t disappear particularly quickly. Give it a few million years and things might improve ever so slightly but until then, the area (not to mention the people) affected by the disaster is horribly contaminated. So many people were exposed to the blast, and when they had kids, a new generation inherited the effects of the radiation.

And this generation is dying. Even today, little guys and gals are born across Belarus and Ukraine with a range of cardiac conditions that impair their quality of life and eventually kill them. Remember, these aren’t exactly affluent countries, so the governments haven’t got buckets of cash to throw around. So what happens? It’s simple. Chernobyl children wait in hospital wards, in many cases miles away from their families, for treatment which may or may not become available to them before their poor broken bodies throw in the proverbial towel.

A Chernobyl charity putting the money where it's needed the most

And that’s why we’ve founded the Chernobyl children’s charity Chernobyl Heart. We originally visited the Ukraine side of the exclusion zone in 2008 and since then we’ve learned bags more about the disaster - in particular, its effects on the poor little ‘uns who were born after their parents were exposed to the radiation. In May 2010, having officially set up our Chernobyl children’s charity, we visited Gomel Children’s Hospital in south-east Belarus, where we’d heard that a great many weenies were treated. What awaited us, though, was a much wider issue - namely, the hardships facing the staff at the noble yet desperately under-funded hospital.

Simply put, they don’t have a pot to piddle in. They’re doing a fantastic job of looking after their many charges, but equipment is woefully scarce - and even when the equipment is there, in all too many cases it’s practically antiquated. It’s nigh-on impossible for this dedicated, passionate team of professionals to treat the kids at the pace, and to the standard, that they’d like.

It’s a never-ending cycle. The hospital’s lack of resources means that the kids’ illnesses can’t be diagnosed early. The kids get more and more sick, so by the time the doctors can establish their needs, the poor sprogs need a higher level of treatment. So they need more resources. Many of the children at Gomel Children’s Hospital don’t make it through.

Which is where we come in. Our Chernobyl children’s charity was founded in the belief that together we can change things for the Gomel weenies. It’s realistic, and it’ll make a real difference. We’re not about raising vague sums of money for vague causes. We know what equipment the hospital needs, we know what it costs, and we’re determined that these kids are going to have a better future.

Help us. Please.

Click here to learn more about the challenges facing the children of Chernobyl.

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© Copyright 2013 Chernobyl Heart. All rights reserved. Registered charity number 1140967. Trustees: Nige Burton, Jamie Salisbury-Jones.