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Chernobyl kids ready to return

A CHARITY is gearing up to bring children from the nuclear fields of Belarus to the green fields of Selby district. For more than ten years, the Chernobyl Children's Project has been working to improve the lot of youngsters brought up in the shadow of the 1986 nuclear disaster in the Ukraine.

The Monk Fryston branch, covering Selby and surrounding villages is bringing a dozen children from Belarus - which borders the Chernobyl exclusion zone - to stay with families for four weeks this summer.

The trips cater for children aged between eight and 13-years-old, and an interpreter travels with the group.

Paula Spencer, project co-ordinator for the branch, said: "We run the recuperative holidays to give kids a break from the contaminated air and contaminated food.

"They get clean air for four weeks, and healthy food, which boosts their immune system, so they're healthier when they go back.

"You can see the change in the children from when they arrive compared to when they leave - they put on a bit of weight, and look a lot healthier."

She said the project was looking for a couple more families to take children, or act as a backup, should any of the other volunteers drop out.

Paula, who has looked after children with the project for the last four years, said the children - arriving on July 23 - would be treated to day trips to the sea, to parks and even to Lightwater Valley theme park.

The group is holding an auction at Monk Fryston Primary School on May 18 to raise money for the trip and the project's other work.

There was a good turn out for a coffee afternoon held in Church Fenton earlier this month in aid of the Chernobyl Children's Project. A total of Ј252 was raised.

As well as the recuperative holidays, the children's project deliver playground and other equipment to orphanages in the former Soviet state.

In May, Paula will travel to the country to see some of the work the project has done there.

In October, The Press reported an arson attack that destroyed the charity's Selby warehouse, used to store equipment before it was transferred to Belarus.

They now have a prospective new storage facility, but need to raise funds to pay for its rent.

If you would like to make a donation, have any fundraising ideas, or if you would like to volunteer to look after a child in July, phone Paula on 01977 682506.



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