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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Chernobyl children to miss visit
Pony trekking
Children from Belarus pony trekking in the Aberystwyth area
For the first time in nearly a decade children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster will miss out on a summer holiday in a mid Wales town.

A lack of host families in Aberystwyth means that the 11 youngsters, many in remission from cancer, will stay in other areas of the UK.

The organisers reluctantly took the decision and instead will fund raise and try to boost the profile of the Chernobyl Children's Project in the town.

For four weeks since 1997, children from Belarus have stayed in the area.

due to a lack of host families we decided not to take children from Belarus this year
Dr Galina Latypova

Dr Galina Latypova, who is originally from Gorky, in Belarus, is chair of the Aberystwyth branch.

A biologist at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, in Aberystwyth, she appealed for more families to come forward to support the charity in the town.

"Many of the committee members in the town have hosted children for seven years and it's a big responsibility for them," she said.

"But due to a lack of host families we decided not to take children from Belarus this year.

"We will fund raise and raise the awareness of the charity and appeal to more families to come forward."

She added: "Many of the children are in remission from cancer and many have suffered thyroid cancer.

"The girls wear scarves around their necks to cover up the scars.

"But they really enjoy their four weeks in Wales and we teach them about the country and explain that it's different to England.

"We appeal to families who think they can look after some youngsters to come forward."

Schools

Children from Belarus also visit Llandinam and Newtown in mid Wales during July and August, but host families have been found in those areas.

Group secretary in Aberystwyth, Jackie Roberts, added: "People in the area are very generous to the youngsters when they visit so it's sad we're not hosting young people this year.

Kayaking
A break in mid Wales can prolong children's lives by up to two years, say project staff

"We intend to do it next year and will use this year to raise funds and highlight the work that we do.

"We intend to visit Women's Institute meetings and schools.

"We take the children, who are aged between 13 and 17, round all the local attractions, beaches, the Centre for Alternative Technology and we have barbecues."

Ms Latypova, who was 30 when the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl exploded in 1986, explained what life was like in Belarus at that time.

"An area 10 miles from Gorky was very badly affected by the blast," she said.

"And to start with the government tried to keep it quiet, but when people around the world starting making waves they revealed what happened.

"The people have been seriously affected. The radiation isn't something you can smell, touch or see so it's very dangerous and indiscriminate.

"Many families have been affected by cancer and this is set to be passed from generation to generation because it's in the gene pool of people.

"It's something that will be with the Bela-Russian people forever."

People who are interested in hosting children from Belarus next year are asked to contact Ms Latypova on 01974 241079


SEE ALSO:
Farms tested for Chernobyl fallout
04 Mar 03  |  England
UK farms still radioactive
03 Mar 03  |  UK
Chernobyl radiation makes wheat mutate
04 Oct 00  |  Science/Nature


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