Children from an area affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are visiting the Island as part of an annual trip organised by the Isle of Man branch of the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (FOCC) charity. During the visit the youngsters were welcomed as special guests at Manx Telecom’s headquarters where they were given free calls home so that they could tell their families about their first few days on the Island. Voirrey Barron, Manx Telecom Marketing Communications Manager, said:
“Manx Telecom has been supporting the FOCC Isle of Man programme since the children first visited the Island 15 years ago. As always we are only too happy to play a part in helping the children enjoy their trip and to support FOCC Isle of Man which organises this magnificent initiative.”
The children have a packed programme of activities planned during their visit involving entertainment, sight-seeing trips where they can learn about the Island’s history and culture, and enjoy the countryside. Norman Rivers, Chairman of FOCC Isle of Man, thanked all of the many organisations and individuals across the Island which provide help and support for the children during their stay. Norman and his FOCC team keep in touch with many of the families of children who have visited in previous years and often hear stories about how the children progress. One former visitor has recently qualified as a dentist.
Over 70% of the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl fell onto the population of Belarus resulting in 800,000 children being at a high risk of contracting cancer or leukaemia. Cattle still graze on contaminated land thus causing the population to be continuously exposed to radiation via the food chain, and scientists say that it will be 24,000 years before the affected land is free of contamination. The children see their visit as a holiday – which it is – but living and breathing in a clean, uncontaminated environment for a month, gives them important health benefits too.
The Chernobyl disaster happened in April 1986 when the nuclear power station’s reactor overheated and caused an explosion. Radiation released into the atmosphere was at levels at least 100 times greater than that from the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Doctors say that one of the most damaging effects on children caused by radioactive fallout is that it impairs their immune system – and the more time that children spend in an uncontaminated environment the more their immune system is able to recover, another vital benefit of the visits to the Isle of Man. The FOCC’s work has also involved providing supplies of vitamins, essential medicines, clothes, and food for both the children and their families in order to maintain the benefits of their visit throughout the year. It has been proven that care of this nature substantially boosts the children’s shattered immune systems and enables them to enjoy a healthier, fuller and longer life. For more information about FOCC go to www.focc.co.im