Children from Chernobyl cared for by Gravesend families

PUBLISHED: 14:12 20 August 2014 | UPDATED: 14:12 20 August 2014

Visits were arranged for the children. Picture: Picasa

Visits were arranged for the children. Picture: Picasa


It was 28 years ago when a tragic accident at the nucleur power plant in Chernobyl, situated on the border of Belarus and Ukraine, occurred.

10.2 million people were subjected to incredibly high levels of radioactivity as a result of the power plant exploding on April 26, 1986.

The tragedy has reverberated through the ages, with children still suffering from poor health to this day.

With radiation levels in the soil remaining very high, contamination is continuing through the food chain, as local populations eat meat and drink milk from cows feeding on contaminated grass.

A small charity in North West Kent, Concern for Chernobyl Children, have been hosting groups of children for the past 26 years.

Thanks to the generosity of the charity and host families, children have been able to enjoy annual four week recuperative breaks from July to August.

Karen Killcullen, Chairperson of Concern for Chernobyl Children, said: “Staying with host families and receiving good food has been found to give them immunity for up to two years. Several of the children on the current visit had liver pain when they arrived in Gravesend but already the pain has subsided.”

Kerry said that there has been an increase in childhood cancers, thyroid damage, chest infections, eye sight problems, respiratory difficulties and anemia.

She added: “The children have inherited a terrible, tragic legacy: they live, drink, eat, breathe and sleep radioactive chemicals. Without our help, these children have no hope and no future: let’s show them that we care.”

The children are taken to local attractions during their stay in the UK.

This year they visited Diggerland and Keith Wyncoll of Jugnu Bhangra Group arranged a tour of the Gurdwara in Gravesend, where they interacted with Sikh children who were learning to play the tabla drums and harmonium.

They ate in the langar (community kitchen) and sang a Russian folk song for the volunteers making chappatis.

While they were in Gravesend members of the charity were able to speak to Cllr Tanmanjeet Dhesi (Labour) about their needs, and he showed support for their cause.

Cllr Dhesi said: “Unfortunately, a shortage of host families has meant that less children could be invited this year. I will play my part in encouraging local people to help this wonderful initiative. Residents from Gravesham and surrounding areas never cease to amaze me with their generosity and caring spirit.”

To find out more about Concern for Chernobyl Children please visit or if you are interested in being a host family next summer please call Karen Kilcullen 07821 479181.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Gravesend Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Gravesend Reporter