Rest and recuperation for children of Chernobyl this summer


Eighteen children from Belarus will arrive on the island this weekend for four weeks of rest and recuperation, nourishment and loving care.

Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (Isle of Man) is once again bringing a group of young, underprivileged children who are suffering the after-effects of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster to the island. The children will arrive on Saturday 13th July and stay with local volunteer host families in a welcoming and friendly environment, enjoying an action-packed timetable during their time here.   

The charity is again meeting the full travel costs of the visit as well as the purchase of shoes and clothing. A year’s supply of vitamins is also donated each year by a local pharmacist for the children to help build their immune systems. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is continuing its support by providing reduced fares for the children and volunteers as they sail to and from the island.

Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (Isle of Man), which began in November 1999, has been organising these annual visits since 2000, to take the 7-12 year olds away from the contaminated environment of their own country and allow their immune systems time to detoxify. Due to the generosity of local health professionals, they also receive dental, optical and hearing tests, something that sadly isn’t readily available to them at home.

Although the radiation explosion at the nuclear plant in Chernobyl took place over 30 years ago, local people are still suffering its affects and it is estimated that more than 40,000 children will contract thyroid cancer over the next 15-20 years.

Many of the young people Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (Isle of Man) work with come from a highly contaminated area known as the ‘dead zone’, but visits to the island have proven to have a hugely positive impact on their long term health and wellbeing. Some of the former children are now teachers, engineers, builders, dentists or in further education.

They all agree that their time on the Isle of Man not only benefitted their health but gave them hope for a brighter future.

During this year’s stay the children will once again enjoy a combination of recreational and educational activities such as swimming, tennis, horse riding and gymnastics, as well as visits to the island’s beaches and Manx National Heritage sites.

There will also be some new experiences for them to try such as a visit to Mullin ny Carty Scout Camp in Malew, writing and sending home post cards at the Isle of Man Post Office and indoor hover karting at the Hover Kart Racing and Recreation Centre in Ballasalla. The month will end with a farewell concert and party on Wednesday 7th August at the Manx Legion Hall in Douglas.

Norman Rivers, Founder of Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (Isle of Man), said: ‘Over the last 20 years we have brought 94 children to the Isle of Man who have each enjoyed up to five annual visits, helping to make a difference to almost 100 lives - something the charity is very proud of. I look forward to travelling to Belarus later this year to meet up with some of these former children and see how they are getting on.

‘Once again we are incredibly grateful to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for its help and generosity with this year’s travel arrangements, it makes a huge difference. We’re also indebted to the local people and volunteers who offer their support year-on-year and help make the children’s time on the island truly special.’

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘It sounds like the children have an action-packed month ahead of them and we hope they enjoy every second of their time on the Isle of Man. We’re delighted to continue our support of the charity and look forward to welcoming them back to our island.’

Interpreters Olyia Sapunova (left) and Irina Zuzina (right) with some of the visiting children from Belarus in 2018
Interpreters Olyia Sapunova (left) and Irina Zuzina (right) with some of the visiting children from Belarus in 2018