Chernobyl Children in Need founders Theresa and Adrian Walker are making plans for their first visit of 2014 to Belarus in February.
Theresa said: “We’d been hosting children from the Ozarichi region of Belarus since 1997, and when Adrian visited the area in 1999 he was most appalled that the school had no toilets. So he told the headteacher that he would build some – and this is how we came to set up Chernobyl Children in Need.”
A long-term relationship with the area developed, with one of their charges, Natasha, coming to live with the Walkers while she studied.
Now Adrian and Theresa make the trip to Belarus about twice a year, and have seen the charity grow from its humble beginnings in plumbing to what is now a significant source of support in the region, funding school improvements, kindergarten provision and school meals, as well as sponsoring 300 children through its members in the UK.
Theresa said: “Over the past five years our sponsored schools in Ozarichi have consistently received certificates for most improved school.”
The next project on the horizon for CCIN, which is based in Westbury, is to provide an enormous play galleon within easy access of the children, and Theresa and Adrian are appealing for barrels, ropes, a scramble net and maybe a plastic lobster or two to decorate the ship, which the children themselves will name.
And there are plans for half a dozen children to come to Swindon again next summer.
“They get to see a different way of life,” said Theresa, “and it often inspires them to do well and perhaps get a job abroad.”
For more information, visit www.ccin.co.uk
Pictured: Gin McGiffin, Swindon contact for CCIN, with visitors from Belarus in July.