The Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown have raised $35,000 dollars, approximately £22,000, during a two year period to enable the purchase a school mini bus for children in the village of Ozarichi, in the Kalinkovichi District of Belarus. The money was raised with the aid of a matching grant, which the Rotary Club successfully acquired from Rotary District 1100 and America.
Working with a Rotary Club in Belarus and also the Swindon Branch of the Chernobyl Children in Need Charity, the bus was purchased to enable the transportation of local children to and from the village school. It is also used for school trips to school music festivals, additional educational classes and is in constant use throughout the week. It also takes children to visit a specialist hospital in Minsk, which is a 6-hour return journey and now enables children from outlying hamlets in the district to attend a Kindergarten school in the village. The bus is also used to transport food parcels paid for by the Chernobyl Children In Need Charity, to needy families in the village and surrounding area.
The school in Ozarichi is close to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and children from the area suffer from poor health owing to contamination of the soil following the affects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred twenty-six years ago. Over 70% of the highly polluted cloud landed in the south of Belarus and 21% of the land is now contaminated and will remain so for hundreds of years. As a result of eating food grown on the contaminated land, many of the children now have very low immune systems, thyroid, cancer and heart problems.
Three members of the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown; Bob Barrett, Steve Davison and Richard Goddard along with Adrian and Theresa Walker from the Chernobyl Children In Need Charity were invited over to Belarus, by the Kalinkovichi District Head of Education to officially handover the keys of the mini bus to the School.
The Rotarians said that it was a enormous privilege to meet the children, their parents and the teachers, the people of Ozarichi are all very grateful to the people of Swindon who supported the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown at the many fund raising events which enabled this mini bus to be purchased.
Top: l-r, Steve Davison, Richard Goddard and Bob Barrett.
Middle: Bob and Richard and the Head of Education (in the Hat) ,the Mayor of Ozarichi, the Headmistress of the Kindergarten and some of the school’s children.
Bottom: Children and Richard Goddard returning in the mini bus from a music competition which they won in Kalinkovichi.