Kristina Ezhenkova is a beautiful 9 year old child from Belarus, who’s life is threatened by the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident which took place 20 years ago on 26 April.
On 1 April Swindonlink.com exclusively featured a Swindon family’s appeal for money so that she could be have a cancerous mole removed immediately in Bristol, but she will now have to return to Belarus for the operation.
Kristina and her friend Nastya came to Swindon in mid-March for a short holiday with the Justin and Virginia McGiffin in Haydon Wick and their three children Kaysha, 12, Cameron, 9, and Lewis, 7. (pictured Virginia with Kristina and Nastya, Cameron and Lewis)
Twelve children from Belarus are being hosted by families involved with West Wilts Link of Chernobyl Children Life Line, one of many similar organisations across Britain which arrange month long breaks for children living in areas affected by the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. Two decades later large numbers of people of dying of cancer. In particular there has been an 800 per cent increase in thyroid cancer because people have no alternative to eating food grown in contaminated soil.
Kristina and Nastya live in a small hamlet in the Gomel Region and have no local access to a doctor. Kristina’s father can no longer work as the result of a serious accident and her mother earns a meagre wage on a collective farm.
When Virginia noticed a mole on Kristina’s ankle she was immediately seen by Trowbridge GP Doctor Steve Rowlands. He immediately realised the situation could be serious and made arrangements for Kristina to be seen privately by oncology consultant Sherif Wilson at the Nuffield Hospital, Bristol. He explained the seriousness of Kristina’s health, not only from melanoma, but from the complications of radiation in her body and offered his team to carry out an operation without charge.
However the Belarrussian Minister of Health is unwilling for the procedure to be carried out in Britain, but has given an assurance that Kristina will have an operation as soon as she returns with the other children on 19 April at the top cancer/radiation hospital in the capital Minsk.
Virginia said she was disappointed that the Government of Belarus will not allow the operation to take place immediately but welcomed the commitment to treat Kristina as a priority case. She said her focus is now on helping the family out of poverty to give Kristina a better future.
?We are going to raise as much money as possible to help Kristina and her family. Immediately we are going to pay for Kristina?s mother to travel to Minsk and stay with her daughter for the operation and afterwards.
?The family cow died last year and they have not been able to buy another. Not having a cow is a mark of extreme poverty in Belarus so providing them with another is a priority. We hope to buy them one in calf so that the family have the milk to drink and to make butter and cheese, and the calf will provide veal to eat and to trade for essentials.
?We also want to improve Kristina?s home by ensuring beds for all members of the family, warm bedding and clothes, shoes for the children as well cooking equipment and extra food.??
Virginia gave an assurance that all money raised will get to the family as representatives of Chernobyl Children Life Line are in touch with them, including the headmistriss of Kristina?s school.
“Kristina is such a lovely child who we quickly came to love as one of our own. It?s disappointing that she cannot be treated here but I understand the issue is sensitive for the Belarus Government and we must not jeopardize the chances of more children from that country being able to come to Britain in the future.
?We are committed to giving her the best possible hope of life in the circumstances
Can you help Kristina?
Donations of any size can be sent to Chernobyl Children Life Line treasurer:
Andrea Hillier, 1 Bridge Court, Westbury, Wilts.BA13 3FB.
Virginia McGiffin, 28 Cloverlands, Haydon Wick, Swindon, Wilts, SN25 1RW.
Cheques should be made payable to: Chernobbyl Children Life Line.
West Wilts Link of Chernobyl Children Life Line (Charity Reg.1014274) is one of 145 similar link organisations across Britain formed after the Chernobyl disaster.