Shropshire and Staffordshire Rotary clubs help Chernobyl children

A fundraising drive led by a Shropshire Rotary club has meant children in Chernobyl have a new minibus.

Members of the Minsk Rotary Club celebrating the success of the Newport Rotary Lite minibus campaign
Members of the Minsk Rotary Club celebrating the success of the Newport Rotary Lite minibus campaign

The minibus, which is already in action, will mean the children who were affected by the Chernobyl reactor explosion can access a range of critical support that they couldn’t previously get to.

Newport Rotary Lite's Chernobyl Children lead Margie Haslop said: “This minibus will make an enormous difference to children whose tough lives have been made even worse by the pandemic in Belarus.

"It will mean they will be able to get to a day centre to give them and their parents a break, the foster care centre, leaving care project and – sadly – their much needed palliative care services.

"The children have a whole range of disabilities resulting from the Chernobyl reactor explosion, and unfortunately many of these are life-limiting. Accessing services is extremely difficult for them and we’ve been told the minibus is already making a real difference to them.”

Linda Walker, executive director of the Chernobyl Childrens’ Project charity, said: “What Newport Rotary Lite has done for the children and young people we support is just fantastic.

"They have helped them for several years, but to get the children a new minibus will make a huge difference to their quality of life which is even tougher at the moment. Thank you Lite and the Rotary movement."

Margie Haslop added: “Newport Rotary Lite have supported the children for quite a while now, but when we heard that access was difficult for them we thought a bigger effort was needed.

"We led a campaign that got fantastic support from the lovely people of Newport, and the Rotary Clubs of Leek, Stafford Knot and Cannock helped us too. St Edwards Academy fundraised as well, and Gareth Richards at Furrows Telford was brilliant.

Tricky

"Once we’d put all this money together our wider Rotary District doubled it, and then they helped us apply for a big grant from Rotary International.

"There are real advantages to Lite being part of the wider Rotary movement, even when we operate in a much less formal way than some traditional clubs. It was a fantastic team effort – thank you everyone who helped!”

“The political situation in Belarus is tricky at the moment and this makes life even more challenging for the children. We sent all the money raised through to the Rotary Club of Minsk who support these children, Rotary always guarantees every penny raised is spent on the cause it’s raised for – so these children have now got their much needed minibus!

"As well as it meaning they can get to the services they need, it will be used to take them on holiday in the summer. Children in institutions in Belarus aren’t allowed to leave the country, but the minibus will give them a lovely break within the country.

"The Chernobyl Children’s Project charity send a group of 'Red Coats' over every summer to help give them a really good holiday.”

“This pandemic has been so hard for so many people, but once again the people of Newport have demonstrated that they will still help those less fortunate than themselves.

"As well as the serious risk of Covid these children have multiple cancers from an explosion before they were even born, and the support given to the minibus from Newport, other Rotary clubs, schools and Furrows Telford means their lives will be better however long they are. Thank you everybody!”

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