A Moray charity that helps children affected by the world’s worst nuclear disaster is appealing for local residents to become host families.
The Friends of Chernobyl’s Children Moray Group are asking for individuals or families to welcome the children into their homes for “a month of love and care” or to volunteer with activities in June 2020.
Established in 2014, the independent charity runs five year-programmes where children of around seven years of age from Belarus visit Moray every year.
This year will be the start of a new programme – and for nine of the 14-strong group, it will be their first visit to Scotland.
The disaster has afflicted the health of the children in many ways, with them often arriving with a chest infections and a weak immune system. The charity’s vital work greatly benefits the children by providing them things we often take for granted, such as healthy food, vitamins, fresh air and a warm bed.
Unfortunately, the charity can’t take every child from the extremely contaminated areas, so they choose children who are in the most social need, perhaps after the bereavement of a parent.
When the group’s co-ordinator, Clare Cotton, visits Belarus next week to select the nine children to come to Morey next year, one of the questions she will ask is “what is your dream?”
Mrs Cotton adds that the group doesn’t have “a prescription” for what a host family has to be like, with the fundamental requirements being that the child has their own bed and are welcomed into a kind and loving home.
“I look for somebody who has empathy for the children. They’re a part of your family and it is a commitment for a month but it is incredibly rewarding for the hosts and the children.”
“The families have a lovely time and their bond with the children is incredible.”
Mrs Cotton added: “We get asked a lot by host families how to get over the language barrier, as the children don’t speak English or know very little from school as they are only seven years old when they first come over but you can communicate with a child so easily. A smile, a thumbs up, a thumbs down and it isn’t long before those children learn the word ice cream!”