Could you host a Chernobyl child?

Angela and Steven Bottomley with their children Tom, left, and Will, and their Belarusian visitor Krystina
Angela and Steven Bottomley with their children Tom, left, and Will, and their Belarusian visitor Krystina

BIG-HEARTED families are being sought to host children hit by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Every year the Halifax and Bradford branch of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline organises respite trips for children suffering in the wake of the 1986 catastrophe.

Land there is still contaminated, living conditions are poor and many children are still being born with, or are developing, serious health problems.

Michael Moriarty’s family hosted a 12-year-old Belarusian girl, Anya, at their Huddersfield home for the first time this year.

He said: “She arrived with only the clothes she was standing up in and was thrilled when we were able to provide her with a wardrobe of clothes generously donated by local schoolchildren and their families.

“She was a lively, friendly and competitive teenager who arrived in a group of 15 children.

“Language was never the problem we thought it might be and Google Translate came to our rescue if there were uncertainties.

“She settled quickly, took it for granted that she should help out around the house and especially liked cooking.

“She was just like one of the family and we all had a lot of fun.”

Organisers arrange a variety of activities and excursions for the youngsters during their two-week stay.

This year’s included trips to the seaside, farm visits, bowling, discos, swimming, sailing and canoeing. ASDA also gave free eye tests and glasses for the children and local dentists provided free treatment too.

“We really enjoyed hosting Anya,” said Mr Moriarty.

“She went home healthier, happier and better-dressed than when she arrived – and if we are to believe the official report from Belarus – better behaved too.”

Next summer the group wants to bring another 15 children from Belarus here, but more hosts are needed.

“All you need is to want to help, energy, a sense of humour, a touch of kindness and a willingness to to get involved,” said Mr Moriarty.

Call him on 07989 355830, or group chairwoman Angela Bottomley on 01422 372994 for more information.