A group of eleven Belarus children aged between 7 and 16 have spent another action- packed four weeks in Swindon, thanks to the Chernobyl Children in Need host families.
Richard Goddard from Old Town, an experienced CCIN host and charity volunteer, said, "the highlights of this year’s visit were definitely the trip to Legoland courtesy of Swindon Cable and Wireless, and the trip to Microsoft in Reading, where the children had the opportunity to play on lots of state of the art equipment and computer games – as well as decorating cakes alongside the canteen chefs!"
Thamesdown Rotary Club funded the children’s annual trip to Cotswold Wildlife Park, and this year invited along children from STEP, Swindon’s ten to eighteen project.
"It was remarkable to see how easily the English and Belarus children bonded. There didn’t seem to be any language barrier at all and the children just got on with each other," said Richard.
"After four weeks the host families really form a strong bond with their visitors, and many a tear is shed the day they all have to leave. However, the children are all very cheerful about going home to their own families, and they each take with them a huge photo album with memories of an experience they will never forget. We still hear reports of children who have visited in previous years getting out their photos every month or so to remember their happy times in Swindon."
Richard describes the experience of hosting as fulfilling, rewarding, hectic and tiring, but he and his colleagues at the charity are already starting to plan next year’s visit, as well as sustaining the work to support the Belarus community in their own country.
The visitors were also given medical checks and went to see Freshbrook dentist Brendon Ball who carried out a large nunber of fillings and extractions.
"We’re on the lookout for sponsors who can donate £12.50 each month to guarantee the children a hot meal each day at school, and we’re also looking for people who can provide us with links into companies or organisations to help during the summer visits," said Richard.
To donate, become a monthly sponsor, or link your organisation to CCIN, contact Gin McGiffin on 07753 662891.
Pictured, top: Holding a fist full of passes for Legoland is Chrissy Stewart as the children from Chernobyl wait to board the bus to take them to Windsor for the day out arranged by staff of Cable and Wireless Worldwide on Windmill Hill in Swindon.
Below: Some of the children who visited Brendan Ball’s dental surgery with CCIN coordinator Gin McGiffin, left, and dental nurse Elena Sinclair.