FOCC Helpston - Charity
Area: Helpston is a small village midway
between the Cathedral City of Peterborough and the market town of Stamford. Helpston is well known as the
birth place of the peasant poet John Clare.
Group Coordinator: Cecilia Hammond – tel. 01733 252118 or 07779
Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (Helpston & District) works with the children and
families who live in the Mogilev region and on to Krichev near the Russian border, all living within the swathe of
land contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster. I have got to know this area and the families well, having visited
Belarus several times. Belarusian people are friendly and welcoming and very thankful for the hard work of this
charity, which does so much to relieve the difficulties of their lives and to improve the health of their
This year we welcomed 21 children to our community. The children
rushed through arrivals at Gatwick to greet us with big hugs, excited at thought of a month’s holiday in England,
of course, it is much more than a holiday – a time to gain in health and strength, to be provided with warm winter
clothing and a year’s supply of vitamins
and toothpaste for all the family, to be given a school uniform and equipment for school. However, for the
children it is just fun, and believe me, fun was had!
Our three new children were an 8 year old boy,
Sasha, who lives with his mum in a single room in a city hostel. They share one shower, one cooker
and one sink with eight other families, on the sixth floor. This little boy, who loves to play football and
run around, is like a caged lion. He went to one of our new host families, with a big garden – fresh air and
exercise for this small boy! Seven year old girl, Galya another new child, lives with her parents, and three
little brothers. Their home is terrible, wooden and draughty - no
indoor toilet or running water, every drop of water has to be drawn from the well. Her poor mum does her
absolute best to cope, but it is difficult. She is just so grateful not to be on her own anymore, now she has
help and support of the charity. Our final new child is Anya, aged 10, she spent several months in the
Orphanage last year and life has been hard for her, she is painfully thin. Like all our children, she had a
wonderful visit to Helpston & District this summer.
stayed with local host families, where strong bonds develop. Every weekday they arrive at our Scout Building
for the Activities Program. We enjoyed trips to horse riding, to Burghley, to Wicksteed Park (courtesy of the
Deepings Rotary), to local schools (John Clare, Northborough, Copthill, Stamford and Southfields), to archery
and to Activity World, to swimming, sailing at Rutland, to Stanwick Lakes and to Peterborough Museum. We had a
fantastic residential this year, there was time by the sea, for the new children this was their very first
visit to the sea as Belarus is a land locked country. We made the most of the good weather, building sand
castles – trying to hold the tide back from the inevitable flooding, collecting sea shells and playing in the
shallows. The boys played hours of football.
We also had more serious visits to the
dentist, where every child received all the treatment that they needed, to
Specsavers in Stamford and to the Eye Care Centre in Spalding, who kindly provided glasses for those in need.
John Lewis provided every child with precious school shoes. So much kindness. We
ended our activities programme with a wonderful party put on by the Deepings Inner Wheel.
We thank all our kind
We sent the children home to Belarus in better health, with bulging
suitcases, ready to meet the demands of another year, but of course, the work does not end there! We will visit
the families in Belarus over the winter and work will shortly begin on preparing for next year’s visit.
Fund-raisng continues to be needed and we would love to hear from anyone who would like to sponsor a child. Our
host families continue to do a wonderful job and we would be keen to hear from anyone who lives in our area who
would be interested in hosting.