Woking Football Club, The Laithwaite Community Stadium, Kingfield, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9AA01483 772470
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9th August 2007

Woking FC Football in the Community Department were delighted to welcome a number of children from Belarus to Kingfield for the game versus Southampton on Tuesday evening.

The children are here as part of an annual project designed to help improve the health and wellbeing of children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 has left large parts of Belarus contaminated. The children who live in these areas have to eat food containing radionuclides and this is damaging their immune systems. It is currently estimated that it will take 400 years to rid Belarus of contamination. The radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident was 90 times greater than that from Hiroshima.

It is estimated that today more than 2 million people in Belarus still live in contaminated areas and there is no access to "clean" food. People, which still include the children, still till their fields, herd their cattle and eat the contaminated produce of their labours. The charity, Chernobyl Children Life Line was founded to help the children of Belarus. The charity is voluntary - there are no overheads, with the exception of postage, stationery and telephone bills - and no salaries, all donations go towards helping the "Chernobyl children".

The Chernobyl Children Lifeline organises rest and recuperation breaks for children from the Chernobyl area. The charity currently brings over 4000 children to the UK each year from Belarus for respite care. It is thought by some doctors that one month with a family here in the UK boosts their damaged immune system to such an extent that it gives them upwards of 2 years on their life expectancy.

By the time they return home most of the children will have gained weight, some up to 7 kilos. They look and feel healthier and most importantly their immune system will have been greatly strengthened. The children will also have learned a lot about life in the UK. They will also have gained more self-confidence and made new friends, indeed, such bond is often formed that some families have travelled to Belarus to visit the children they have hosted. Once the children have returned home, letters are exchanged which encourage the children to learn English and we know their education improves as they have better attendance at school owing to less illness.

Each child will return home with a year's supply of multi-vitamins for themselves and siblings together with some things that are difficult to obtain such as Paracetamol, antiseptic creams, plasters and many other such items which we take.

Enquiries from prospective host families, those interested in fundraising or helping during the children's visits are always welcome. If you think you could help in some way please contact Olwyn Davidson on 01276 473929 or email olywn.bradley@btopenworld.com. Or you can contact Jane Spong in the Community Department at the Club.

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