Seven women in fight to help Chernobyl children

A TELEVISION documentary has inspired seven Helston women to join forces to bring ten Russian children – the victims of the Chernobyl disaster – to Cornwall for a month.

So far the group, named the Cornwall Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline has, with the help of local schools, churches and individuals, raised over £800 since last September but it has a long way to go.

To bring the children and an interpreter to Britain will cost £2,500 for the return flight.

The committee – Heather Gilbert, Dee Devenish, Gladys Pascoe, Sharon Verry, Jenny Jago, Maji Hayden and Hazel Green – are aiming to raise the necessary money by July to bring the children over in August.

Chairman Mrs Gilbert, a teacher at Parc Eglos School, said: “This is the minimum amount required as money will also be needed to buy the vitamins and any other medication required. But we are a very energetic and determined committee and we say we will raise the funds.”

It is ten years since two million people in three republics of the former Soviet Union were subjected to a cloud of deadly radioactivity following explosions at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

The terrible consequences of the fall-out are apparent in children’s hospitals all over the region where doctors are trying to cope with huge increases in the incidence of severe birth defects, childhood cancers and other serious illnesses.

“There is not enough money for the basic medical treatment let alone desperately needed chemotherapy,” said Mrs Gilbert. “There are two ways in which we, in Britain, can help the children who are suffering. The first way is to raise money to pay for vital medication and the second way is to sponsor children to be brought to Britain for a month to build up their immune systems by giving them a better environment and nourishing food and by improving the quality of their lives with medical or dental treatment and education.”

Mrs Gilbert added: “The group was set up last year after many of its members saw a television documentary telling the story of the plight of the children of the republic of Belarus.”