Mum hosting child from Chernobyl fallout tells of bravery of his parents
- Credit: Archant
A community nurse who will host a boy from his home in Belarus near where the Chernobyl disaster took place said his parents were 'brave' and 'desperate'.
This will be the second year Alison Alasia will welcome the nine-year-old into the family home after he makes the long journey from the affected region and arrives on Friday.
Vladmir will be one of eight children who will be enjoying the fresh air, good food and activities that he and his friends are deprived of back at home.
For although it was over thirty years ago the explosion occurred at the nuclear plant in neighbouring Ukraine, the fallout is still very evident.
National and international medical experts have long stated the rise in cancers amongst the population - thyroid cancer being prevalent amongst children.
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And although one fifth of the country's agricultural land was contaminated, high levels of poverty means throwing away affected food is often not an option.
Alison Alasia remembers how this time last year she waited anxiously at the salvation army centre in Diss for the children to arrive from Belarus.
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'We were worried about how we would cope with a child we didn't share a language with, and if we would understand his needs,' she said.
'The travellers arrived, most with only the clothes they stood in and with shoes too small.
'Some had been before, but Vladimir, who had only just turned eight, had not been away from home before.
'He was a small, skinny, 'washed-out' kid with a nervous smile.
'He was totally exhausted by the situation and tears rolled down his cheeks.
'The interpreter reassured us and we took him home - he cried all the way.
'One portion of chips with ketchup, two crazy dogs chasing around the garden and all was well.
'Vlad started laughing and never looked back.
'We had a wonderful experience looking after our new friend.
'He attended activities Monday to Friday at the day centre and we gave him love and good food for four weeks.
'We communicated with pictures and made-up sign language and, if all else failed we had google translator.
'I couldn't imagine ever sending my children away, even for a day, to a foreign country where they couldn't speak the language.
'How brave and desperate parents must be in Belarus to send their children to strangers in the UK for a month.
'I'm very grateful to Vlad's parents for entrusting their child's care to me - it was such a rewarding and life-enriching experience.
'We look forward to his visit this summer and to seeing him grow and progress.'
The community nurse whose own children are now grown up said it was a 'lovely' opportunity to have a child around again.
And to know that she and her husband Richard were making a difference to a child's health and well being.
Alison Alasia is hoping her fund raising with Diss and District branch of Friends of Chernobyl's Children will cover the costs of the children's holiday.
So far a tombola stall at the Diss Carnival raised £270 and a recent car boot sale at the Mere Park added £600 to the coffers.
Further fund raising events include a fashion show at M & Co on Mere Street on July 27 at 7pm - tickets are available at the shop.
And a barn dance at Roydon Village Hall on July 29 - Diss Waveney Rotary Club has paid for the hire of the hall and the caller.
Tickets for the dance are available from Brownes Butchers and Roydon Service Station.
The Diss and District branch of Friend's of Chernobyl's Children are also looking for schools and businesses to sponsor a child.
Currently it costs £500 for a child's flight and visa and £800 includes all the child's costs.
Anyone interested in hosting a child affected by the Chernobyl disaster can contact Kirsty Neve on 01379 890310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org