Chernobyl Children Life Line Charity
The Chernobyl Children’s Life Line Charity (CCLL) is a national charity founded in 1992 by Victor Mizzi MBE. Since then over 160 "Links" have been established throughout the United Kingdom, raising money to support the children of Belarus and Ukraine, whose lives will be forever affected by the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 some 25 years ago.
On April 26, 1986 at 1.23 am technicians at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in the Ukraine allowed the power in the fourth reactor to fall as part of a controlled experiment. To carry out their tests, they de-activated several major safety systems that would have shut down the reactor in an emergency. The experiment went wrong, two explosions blew the top off the reactor building and a fire started in the core which burned for several days. A cloud of deadly radio activity dispersed into the surrounding environment. This silent killer continued to pour from the damaged reactor for ten days.
The resultant fallout of radioactive material was over 90 times greater than that of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined! Over 70% of it fell on Belarus. Some of these highly carcinogenic radioactive particles have an half-life of 24,000 years.
The consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are well known, by anyone who can remember the disaster but as time goes on it becomes part of history. The reality is, that this still affects children from the Chernobyl area. Many of the children are still suffering from the effects, children are particularly susceptible to radiation induced illnesses many go on to develop genetic blood disorders, thyroid & bone cancers or leukaemia as well as experiencing social hardship. Even today babies are still being born with serious deformities.
Before this tragic event, Belarus was known as the breadbasket of Russia, with a stable economy. Now the people live with radiation all around them. They drink contaminated water and wash with it. There is very little to eat in Belarus and what there is, has a high chance of being contaminated. The compromised food chain means that they now have to import a high proportion of their foodstuffs. The most disadvantaged have no option but to eat crops grown in the contaminated earth - a vicious cycle
We do get asked why don’t we raise funds for UK based Children’s charities? There are a few things, the UK charities are very well advertised and have many supporters, this is not the case in the Chernobyl charities as the monies raised are used to support the children. In the UK there is government help for families or children that need help, there is also heath care etc. In Belarus and Ukraine this is not the case as the economy is no longer stable and there is no health or support for social hardships.
It is reported that some 200,000 people were evacuated, many of these were housed in temporary accommodation, which is still being used. As a result there has been issues in relation to unemployment, alcoholism and all the other social hardships that it has caused. Alcoholism, you could say this is self-inflicted? May be, but it was widely reported in Russia that Vodka can cure radiation poisoning, which is not the case!
Many of the children we help are either from single parent families or orphanages, or their parents are not well enough to work. A typical wage for the children’s parents can vary from £15-£40 per month, I don’t believe there are many UK families that could do this, to survive they have to supplement their income by growing their own food where they can.
So that’s a bit of background information on what happened and why these children need help.
I am the Vice Chairperson of the Portsmouth & Hayling Island Link (PHIL) of the Charity. We arrange each year for 12 to 14 children to visit Portsmouth and Hayling Island on a recuperative break from the either Belarus or the Ukraine. As a family we have been with the charity for three years and my whole family get involved throughout the year.
As a group we have to raise over £6,000 to actually get the children to the UK and approximately £2,000 to cover the other costs throughout the visit. Everyone involved with our Link undertake their support voluntary, including hosting of the children throughout their visit. We also have to ask local businesses and supporters to sponsor activities during the children’s recuperative break to the UK.
The four week recuperative break, away from contaminated food, water and air boosts their immune systems to make a real difference to their health and lives of these children, we try and make the visit as much fun as possible as most of the children will never be able to return.
Several of the members across PAL have been supporting our Link with donations of bric-a-brac and clothing to raise much needed funds throughout the year and also with clothes and sundries to take back with them to Belarus or Ukraine. We also have various social and fundraising activities that are well supported by PAL staff.
There are many ways in which anyone can help, obviously by donation of different types as above or by sponsoring a child or an activity.
Simon Escott has allowed us to promote the Charities activities across PAL as this helps to raise awareness of the children’s situation and to ensure these children and their families are not overlooked.
In writing this it’s all a bit doom and gloom, which is why we focus on the four week recuperative break and giving the children a chance to enjoy themselves away from the hardships of their day to day existence.
These children’s are no different to ours and they did not ask for any of this. It was an accident that they now have to live with. Our web site shows just how much fun this is for the children but it is hard for everyone involved but at times very humbling and rewarding.
For more information on the charity or the work we do visit our website : www.ccll.org.uk/portsmouth .