We support the Children’s Diabetes Association in Gomel, helping to buy test strips and other supplies for children and young adults as well as providing recuperative holidays for children with diabetes. The Association has over 700 families on their books and with great difficulty strives to support them with scarce but essential medical necessitates such as insulin, blood and urine testing strips, medicines and vitamins. Because it has become almost impossible for us to provide medical aid one way to help is by sending clothes, toiletries and cleaning materials to relieve them of that expense and leave them with a little more cash to spend on food and medicines.
Buxton and Longnor Group of the Chernobyl Children’s Project became involved with the Gomel Diabetic Association twelve years ago. Since then they have helped to support them financially, donated humanitarian aid and provided holidays for their children.
We visit the Diabetic Association regularly and members of the Buxton and Longnor group make a trip to Belarus at least once or twice annually and several members of the group have met there with the families.
A group of 10 or 16 children, their interpreter and doctor are invited to the High Peak for a month’s recuperative holiday every summer. They are divided into pairs and each pair is hosted by a family for two weeks, then they transfer to a second host family for a further two weeks. Outings and trips are organized for the young people and their hosting families: sailing, barbecues, potholing, parties, bowling, a trip to the seaside, Alton Towers and much more. All are donated by businesses, organisations and many generous individuals. There is always a huge amount of apprehension and worry on both sides concerning language. The hosts are provided with a vocabulary list, there is always the interpreter who is with the group everyday and always on the end of a mobile telephone. There are inevitable a few children with some English who keep their heads down, only revealing the full extent of this ability when their confidence is up, usually a couple of days before they go home! Afterwards hosting families will laugh at their apprehensions, yes conversation is sometimes a problem but with a few gestures and a little mime communication is amazingly easy and a lot of fun.
It is always a great satisfaction to observe a big difference in their appearance at the end of their holiday; those grey faced kids who arrived a month ago almost always depart rosy cheeked and shiny eyed.
They will have made new friends and have a wealth of good memories, not to mention photographs and souvenirs.
Their doctors tell us that a month in the clean air, with good nourishing food can boost their damaged immune systems for up to two years.
Their Association who are massively appreciative, tell us that for many years they felt abandoned by their own authorities. Now it is the knowledge that many people far away care about them and their tragedy. It gives them the spirit to carry on.