Care, compassion and community spirit

Posted by thewinkingprawn on March 27, 2020


There’s not a lot that we can add to the current conversation around coronavirus. You all know the deal as well as anyone. However, we can focus on a slightly different perspective, which we hope will provide you with something interesting to read and think about. It might even give you some ideas on how to spend your time at home in isolation.

As many of you may know, this month Jane from The Winking Prawn was due to travel to Belarus with Sue from the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline - Totnes and South Hams. The trip was to investigate the costs and logistics of renovating a pedagogical centre in Stolin to provide a safe space for children in danger and who have been removed from their children, as part of the wider work of the charity that supports children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Naturally, we have had to postpone our trip. However, it is only postponed and in the meantime we will endeavour to get the ball rolling on the the next phase of the project through the magical medium of Skype. We will keep you posted.

How you can help

We realise that everyone is anxious about finances at the moment, but you can still help the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline - Totnes and South Hams.

  • By sorting through your cupboards and wardrobes while you’re at home. Put any children’s clothes (up to nine years old) and toys (things that we can take in our hand luggage when we next visit) you no longer use to one side and get in touch with the charity - they would be very happy to receive them when it’s safe and responsible to go out and about.
  • The charity has had a number of people offer to make blankets for the children as a way of putting their isolation to good use. They have a wonderful lady, Helen, who is happy to knit together squares if anyone would like to contribute. If so, they are looking for 20cm knitted squares. You might also like to knit your own blankets or even toys if you’re feeling ambitious!
  • When all this is over, we will still be looking to raise funds for the children, whose own period of turmoil is lifelong. We would love to hear your fundraising ideas!

Food for thought

Having changed plans for the charity at the moment in light of coronavirus, Sue had a thought the other day which really resonated with us, and that we thought you might you might like to hear.

As she sat in her car, pondering whether to go into the supermarket or not, Sue realised that the thing that was holding her back, was fear. Fear of getting ill, fear or unwittingly making someone else ill, fear of the unknown and how it will all affect the people she loves.

Midway through her thinking she stopped and realised that everything she was feeling is what the people in Belarus have been living with every day since the disaster in 1986. For them however, there is no end in sight. Every day they worry about what is safe to eat and drink. Whether it’s safe to have children. Who will get ill from the ongoing impact of radiation and how that will manifest. That’s before you get to the impact it’s had on their economic stability, and their emotional and mental wellbeing as well.

For some context, medical experts expect as many as 40% of children exposed to Chernobyl's radiation to develop thyroid cancer over the next 30 years. In 1988, 83 children were revealed to have thyroid gland problems. In 1989 the number was 807. In 1990 it had risen to 9,924. In addition to that, the death rate in Belarus has consistently exceeded birth rate.

For us, there are huge challenges ahead and our hearts break for anyone who is seriously affected by coronavirus, but this will end. It will stop. For the people of Belarus, it never will. The nuclear radiation will continue to pollute the ground, the water and the environment for more than 20,000 years, and the impact on their health is being passed down through the generations. They live with that all the time.

That realisation doesn’t make our current circumstances any easier, and it doesn’t downplay the personal devastation for anyone who loses a loved one to coronavirus. However, it does provide some perspective on the things that we are so very fortunate to have collectively, and also it hopefully reminds us to be compassionate and caring towards one another. Just a thought.

Stay safe and take care of yourselves and those around you!

If you would like to offer support to the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline - Totnes and South Hams, do follow the link below.