For the summer of 2012. the Board of Directors of Canadian Aid for Chernobyl has committed to raising all of the funds required for travel, interpreters and health insurance for all children to be hosted within Leeds & Grenville. The only cost that the host families will bear will be the day to day cost of hosting them in their homes; food, shelter, perhaps some clothes and a little love. Of course, whenever possible, host families would be expected to volunteer at some fund raising events.
The reason Canadian Aid for Chernobyl exists today is because it was started by families hosting children from the radioactive environment created after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. These conditions still exist today and these children need the respite as much today as they did in 1986. Over the past few years we have seen our programs numbers get smaller and smaller and we are now at a point where we must rejuvenate the program or see it disappear altogether.
This past year has seen the Belarussian economy hit hard like many other countries. The Belarussian Ruble is now at approximately one third the value it has been for the past several years. This means that effectively the people of Belarus are making approximately one third of what they were last spring and it is increasingly difficult to find many staples in the stores and prices on these items have increased exponentially.
With the economic crisis came a time of belt tightening which led to the decision to send children from orphanages home to the difficult and often abusive environments from which they had been removed. For many orphanages it meant closure and consolidation. The Chausy orphanage was once again targeted for closure, but due to the development of programs by Canadian Aid for Chernobyl that made this one of the best orphanages in the Republic, the Chausy orphanage was spared. However, of the approximately 100 children in the orphanage, 19 graduated, 41 were sent home to difficult situations and only 40 are true orphans who would remain. Within one week the orphanage director had received 3 calls for help from children sent home. CAC worked with the Orphanage Director and the Ministries of Health and Education to develop a sponsorship program where we would pay the costs to keep these at risk children in the orphanage to continue their education as well as live in the safe environment they have come to trust. At this time we have raised the funds to sponsor 30 children and 28 are now back at the orphanage. When the school year ends in May, these children will still be returned to their families, however if we bring them to Canada for our 5 week summer respite program they will be allowed to stay at the orphanage to bridge the remaining few weeks of summer.
Working with the Orphanage Director and Staff Psychologist, 15 children have been selected to come to Canada and it is for these children that host families are needed. If you are interested in hosting or know someone who might be, please click here for more information on hosting or click here to find the necessary application forms. Rhona Dixon, our Children’s Program Chair, can be contacted at 613-342-2709 or by e-mail here.
Here is a picture of the children at the Chausy Orphanage before the changes were made:
Here are some more pictures of children from the Chausy Orphanage:
How can you resist?