Blind and vision capable children rest together at the therapy camps.
In 1986, the Belarusian city of Gomel was strongly contaminated by the devastating nuclear accident of Chernobyl. Still today, an extremely high number of children with serious maladies live there. Most of them, being born after the nuclear catastrophe, suffer chronic illnesses like allergies, asthma, diabetes, or illnesses that affect their eyes. The noxious radionucleides found in the food chain accumulate in children’s bodies,affecting their immune system. The Green Cross therapy camps offer these children a unique chance to take a break, to escape from their sad daily lives and to rest for four weeks, while benefiting from medical care. The strong exposure to radiation adds to the suffering the children experience due to their handicap. Since 2007, Green Cross Switzerland, along with the Swiss Federation of the blind and partially sighted, has welcomed blind and partially blind children to the therapy camps in Belarus.
Vasia, an 8 year old child, does not only suffer from strong exposure to radiation, but is also blind. During the summer of 2007, he rested in the Green Cross Belarus therapy camp, and he was happy to be able to find new friends that year.
The blind and partially blind children have little social contact with those who have full vision capabilities and do not benefit from sufficient encouragement. This year, the therapy camps in Belarus welcomes 420 children and adolescents, 60 of whom are blind or partially blind who are attending with their chaperones. The Swiss Federation of the blind and partially sighted (FSA) supports worldwide projects for the blind and partially sighted living in unfavorable regions. According to Marja Kämpfer, a member of the directing team of the FSA, mixed therapy camps favor integration in the long term and modify the thinking of an entire generation. Vision capable children uncover that their blind and partially sighted peers are all likethem, in their dreams and abilities. In the therapy camps, friendships are formed between the vision capable, blind, and partially sighted, something that is practically impossible in everyday life. For four weeks, the children breathe the fresh air and eat uncontaminated food, rich in vitamins and are taken care of by doctors. In addition, in the camps, blind and partially sighted children are accompanied by trustworthy people.
April 26, 2008: Chernobyl Commemoration
The nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl, occurring in 1986, touched Russians, especially in Belarus and the Ukraine, large regions that are still contaminated with radionucleides. In Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine, 5 million people suffer from radioactive contamination every day. The constant radiation exposure, although weak,contributes to the problem, because people incorporate radionucleides from their diet on a daily basis. Since 1996, GC Switzerland has been offering children and adolescents a stay for four weeks in a therapy camp during summer vacation, in the framework of a social medicare program for health and education. These therapy camps are organized in Russia,Belarus, and the Ukraine, in non-contaminated zones and close to nature for a better local anchorage. Thanks to the medical and psychological accompaniment,and a healthier alimentation, provided to the children during their four weekstay, their immune systems are reinforced and the rate of exposure to radiation decreased 30 to 80 % each time. Until today, 14,200 children and adolescents have been helped.
For more information, contact Christina Bigler, Coordinator of the Social and Medical Care Programme: