Chernobyl by Tamsin…

October 30, 2013

I have been lucky that my first project with Mum’s the Word was working with an inspirational community, 12 beautiful children and a wonderful charity called Friends of Chernobyl Children.


I have to say I was hugely ignorant of who the children of Chernobyl were, I’d heard of them once before many years ago, but had no idea of the scale of the situation in Belarus, until I heard Karen de Snoo speak in Church.  My heart broke at the situation, knowing that a whole country was devastated 27 years ago by a nuclear accident in Ukraine leaving Belarus basically under a radioactive cloud; this is a tragedy that will effect a whole country for decades to come.


Friends of Chernobyl Children are a charity that bring children from Belarus over to the UK for a month of respite and fresh air. These children are hosted by families in the community who commit to a 5 year programme.  My local community welcomed a group of 12 7-8 year olds.


As Karen spoke in Church about these 12 children, I immediately wondered if Mum’s the Word could some how be involved.  Speaking with Karen later that morning it was apparent that Mum’s the Word were exactly what FOCC were looking for – they needed clothes for the children, and we needed recipients for the clothes we had already collected!


We set about making MTW bags for each child and filled them with a variety of clothes.  These were given to the children as part of a ‘cashless sale’ on the day they arrived in England, I was fortunate enough to be able to be there that day.  The children were so excited and overwhelmed by the amount of clothes that were there just for them – clothes donated not just by us but also from families of the local church and school.


As in many places we work in, shoes are something that can make a big difference, but are often less available, so MTW committed to providing each of these children with a pair of school shoes and trainers.  We could not have done this without the kindness of Kings Cross Church who donated money towards this cause, as well as Clarks who support FOCC each year and were also kind enough to donate some vouchers to us to help with the cost.  Taking the children to Clarks was a truly memorable day, the look on their faces as they walked into the shopping centre and then into the shoe shop was of pure amazement and awe – I remember being allowed to choose my own school shoes as a child and it being a great experience, I was touched to be able to be a part of that moment for these children, as they picked and tried on their new shoes.


Before the children went back to home to their families in Belarus, I was invited along to their thank you concert, a variety show of English and Russian songs, dances and folk stories.  I will never forget this experience, and look forward to working closely with FOCC again.


Tamsin Vella




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