Helping lifeline for children

Charity representative Jeanette Fortnum with Rotary club International Chairman, Barry Chambers and president Derek Anderson
Charity representative Jeanette Fortnum with Rotary club International Chairman, Barry Chambers and president Derek Anderson

In April 1986 devastating news was released that a nuclear reactor had blown up in Chernobyl, just within the Ukraine.

Within a short while, the radioactive cloud of debris, 90 times greater than Hiroshima, had spread across neighbouring Belarus.

And at their recent meeting, members of Market Rasen Rotary Club heard how the legacy of this disaster lives on.

Local organiser for The Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, Jeanette Fortnum from West Torrington, gave a presentation to the Rotarians, explaining the problem and the work the charity was doing.

“The problem will not go away,” she told the meeting, “with the damaged reactor likely to be radioactive for 100,000 years and the genetic and nutritional effects continuing for many years to come.”

The charity has 165 groups around the UK, all actively raising funds to bring children to the UK for respite care.

Some 3,000 children visit each year, with the funding only allowing one visit per child.

However, some children do return, when the hosting family pays for subsequent visits, at a cost of around £460 per child, per visit.

“Between 10 and 20 children come to our area each year for a month’s respite, and to rebuild their immune system, giving them resistance to illness,” added Jeanette.

“Following a visit, the children benefit for at least two years.”

After the meeting, Rotary club International Chairman, Barry Chambers, presented the charity with a cheque for £100 to help their work.

Jeanette is always looking for fundraising support and also for volunteers to host the children when they visit.

For more information contact her on 01673 857162.

As we knew in the UK, this radioactive cloud from the disaster blew on prevailing winds, affecting food production in all the countries it crossed, including some of the British Isles.

Today, 20 per cent of the land in Belarus is contaminated and unusable.

Food being prepared for sale in Belarus is still, to this day, tested for reasonable safety with a Geiger counter, before being allowed to the shops for sale.

Belarus became independent of the old Soviet Union in 1990, but the government commands old style control, even today.

Many people lost their lives in the nuclear reactor disaster, and many, many, more were affected by the radiation, with the population passing on susceptibility to cancer through the generations, and through continuing to eat food, still at radioactive levels which are too high.

The Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Charity was set up to help children affected by the tragedy.