Party marks end to Chernobyl children’s respite holiday

The children say their final goodbye's before travelling home to their families in Belarus.

The children say their final goodbye's before travelling home to their families in Belarus. - Credit: Archant

After a month-long respite visit to the region, a group of children from Belarus enjoyed a farewell party last Friday before they headed back home.

The seven youngsters were visiting as part of a trip organised by the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line (CCLL) – Chet and Waveney Link.

The group offers children whose lives are still affected by the Chernobyl disaster the opportunity to spend time in the UK, which can have a positive effect on their health.

David, Victorya, Vialetta, Margarita, Sviatlana, Valeria and Anhelina all attend the same village school in the Brest region of Belarus and spent four weeks staying with hosts families in Norfolk and Suffolk.

They enjoyed a variety of activities, including trips to the zoo, the beach and bowling, before the farewell party at The White Horse in Chedgrave.

The work now begins to recruit potential host families for next year, including those who cannot host full-time but may be able to look after one or two children for a few hours overnight when the host family has other commitments.

Diane Dungate, who looked after Valeria and Margarita from this year’s group, said the experience had been hard work but an “absolute joy”.

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She decided to host the children after gaining decades of experience working with young people.

She said: “I planned, organised and ran residential outdoor trips for young people with special needs and, from this, gained experience of 24-hour care of young people.

“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.”

Belarus received more than 70pc of the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl and the effects continue to be felt decades on with thousands of children being born with or going on to develop cancers and other serious health problems.

If you would like information about becoming a host for next year, or can help with outings, planning events, assisting in the day centre when the children are here, or with fundraising, contact