Tears of great sadness and joy

This Blog is not about my pottery studio or what we do but about me and what I do in my spare time. I volunteer with a local Charity group called Medicine & Chernobyl UK South Ribble group, I am also the fund raising coordinator. We collectively aim to raise £12-14,000 per year to bring a group of children from Belarus who live in the radiation affected areas from the nuclear power plant explosion at Chernobyl 24 years ago.

In brief the children live with radiation in the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat this all has an affect on their health from causing very weak immune systems to childhood cancer to cancer in early late 20’s.  I will at some point may be write about their lives or the new found problems with the long term radiation in their lives and what we do to try and help.

We bring over a group of 14 children to stay with the families in our group for a month – it has been proved that living in clean air – yes here in Preston! with clean food and water it cleanses their bodies and boosts their immune system greatly. After living here for one month, instead of getting pneumonia in the winter they will just get a cold like we tend to do. Also it gives them a better chance to fight against cancer when it strikes. There are hundreds of similar groups throughout the UK and Europe that do this work bringing thousands of children into a safe environment for a month each year.

 So over the last year our group have been madly fund raising which has been harder than normal with the credit crunch still about, but we have managed it and the children are due to arrive on Monday 21st of June.

This time last week disaster struck, we were told 4 of our children would not be coming because the UK Border control had changed the immigration rules and had not told any one (they don’t have to because they have such power it seems) that as of 22nd May this year all Host family members (who the children stay with) have to have a CRB less than 3 years old. Some of our families were just over this and the charity’s rule was to renew every 5 yrs as CRB’s have no expiry date! On hearing this news we cried uncontrollably; you get attached to these children when they live with you or you see them during the week on outings etc knowing that their being here is helping their health and will make a difference to their lives; knowing that their life at home is often without parents (future Blog post I think), or in an orphanage or without running water, heating, or flushing loo, the thought that 4 of our group were not coming through no real fault of ours was too much to comprehend.  The 4 affected have been coming along time and I have been involved for 5 years so I know them all well. I shouted “ its not fair, they need to come to stay to be healthy, who do the Border control think they are?” in my rage. I wanted to run to London and bang on the door of No. 10 and shout sort it out, you have no idea what you are doing to these children! In reality the UK Border control have a duty to the safety of the children but at the time their reasons weren’t foremost in our mind. The years the children have been coming for gives continuous support to their immune system – what would a years break do to all that hard work on their well being and health? I kept crying with anger whilst driving to work, at work, just everywhere really,the devastation was so great I had never experienced this other than family death that’s the only way I can describe it really. Your heart being wrenched out and feeling rage at the lack of control you have of the situation.

For 4 days other Chernobyl organisations and ours lobbied MP’s and parliament, they got to meet with some Ministers in London and finally they listened and a Minister with power (I don’t know who, but I and our group will be grateful as long as I live to them) over turned the UK Border control agencies rule for this summer. Oh the joy, oh the tears, the floods of tears and boxes of tissues I and others went thro. I was at work when I heard and stood crying at my counter in my studio with customers already in and some arriving. It took a while for me to calm down and explain, when I did they needed tissues too! I wasn’t ashamed of my tears I love these children dearly and I am proud of the work our charity does to try and give them a better chance in life by giving them better health.

So on Monday, FIVE DAYS TIME we will be welcoming our children back, 12 from last year and before that and 2 new ones going to 2 new families in our group. My husband and I host the interpreter/parent guardian to the children during their travel and visit, we have been told this will be Alina who came last year, (We daren’t take anything for granted until we see her at the airport but are still making plans of where we will go with her on her days off) an amazing young lady and one who became our life long friend without a doubt during her stay last year. She lives in a lower radiation area to the children – however it’s not a level which we would ever want to live in so she gets the benefit of better health too which is fabulous. So as we count down how many days, sleeps, nights, meals until they all hopefully arrive complete and safe and sound– anything to make it be Monday now, I know there will be more tears on Monday – buckets of the them just pure delight to see the children and our Alina. I apologise if it gets a bit soggy under feet in the Walton le Dale area, but I hope you will understand why.

 I’ll let you know how it all goes and if you wish to find out more about what this charity does please visit www.mcrv.co.uk


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