Recuperative Holidays

Speeding the Recovery of Children in Remission From Cancer

Doctors in Belarus say that a four week holiday boosts the children’s immune systems for at least two years, helping them to resist, or recover from, serious illness. Every summer until 2019 Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK) brought children to Britain for a recuperative holiday, and organised holidays in clean parts of Belarus for children whose disabilities make it difficult for them to travel.

Most of the children we brought to the UK were in remission from leukaemia or cancer. They were chosen by an organisation in Minsk called ‘Children in Trouble’ (CIT) which is run by parents of children with cancer. Holidays abroad are vital for their children, particularly in their teens, when many fall ill for a second or third time, and the death rate is very high.

We included groups of very young children who came for a holiday with their mothers. We also tried to invite as many teenagers as possible because other charities tended to focus their attention purely on the younger ones and so there were fewer opportunities of a break for teens. Some of the children may have come from some of the most contaminated parts of the country. There are still many children living in tiny rural villages, sometimes just a few miles from the Chernobyl plant. These children may not yet be ill, but their future is bleak if they continue to live in such a radioactive environment. We hoped that a happy, healthy holiday in the summer would give them a better chance. And, in addition to the obvious health benefits, a holiday in the UK provided a huge psychological boost and the children (and mums) often returned home with new friends they made for life. The value of this was evident in the messages that we received from the children and their mothers after their holiday.

Benefits all round

Welcoming any child in remission from cancer into your home and your family would likely be a profoundly moving experience for most. But each of our host families knew that that child lived in a far less wealthy country with far less resources at its disposal to help those of its residents whose lives have been blighted by an accident in a neighbouring country then the feeling of satisfaction that must have engendered must have been heightened still further. Especially when considering that they were providing a much needed four week break in a clean environment and that, after the holiday the child had to return to their contaminated homeland.

And, for those host families with children of their own, what better way to demonstrate and teach them the value of helping others, less fortunate than themselves. Not to mention the new lifelong international friendships that in many instances have resulted! Read the hosting experiences of families who have hosted kids from Belarus with CCP (UK).

We last hosted children in 2019 before the outbreak of Covid and then the war in Ukraine. 

Messages from host families