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Host family appeal for Chernobyl children

PUBLISHED: 09:30 03 July 2015

Chernobyl.

Chernobyl.

Archant

A Worlingham woman has described her experience of hosting youngsters from Belarus on a four-week recuperative break to the region.

Diane Dungate, 62, got in touch with Chernobyl Children’s Life Line (CCLL) – Chet and Waveney Link after reading about the work it does with children whose lives are still affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

Miss Dungate, who is looking after Valeria and Margarita, said it was an absolute joy and she felt a great sense of purpose and fulfilment from the experience.

David, Victorya, Vialetta, Margarita, Sviatlana, Valeria and Anhelina all attend the same village school in the Brest region of Belarus.

They have been staying with hosts throughout Norfolk and Suffolk and now the organisation is looking for more host families and supporters to enable them to bring more children from the region next year.

Miss Dungate said: “I have never had children, but I do have 39 years’ experience working with children in schools, including 20 years at a special school.

“I have also had a lot of experience of caring for young people and used to run a residential care facility for children, working with them on a 24-hour basis so I felt I had the skills plus the physical and emotional energy to do it.”

Ahead of welcoming the children last month, Miss Dungate embarked on a basic Russian course.

She said: “The girls have adjusted very well and are quite independent, considering they are so young and so far away from home. It is amazing.

“Building up trust is the most important thing and I have seen them grow in self confidence and their English has improved so much.

“It has been an absolute joy but it is hard work.”

The children’s home country was devastated on April 26, 1986, when an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

Miss Dungate said living in a healthy environment and eating healthily food has had a great effect on the children, who head home tomorrow.

They have enjoyed a range of activities during their time here, including visits to beaches, bowling and the zoo.

If you would like information about becoming a host, or can help in other ways, contact astannard@uwclub.net

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