Grateful villagers in Nevgody

There was working visit of the Green Cross Ukraine Team together with representatives of South Korea, photographer Jung. Sung-Tae and his assistant Jeon Hwalgi, who are currently working on the photo project to showcase the theme of the Chernobyl disaster and its impact on the lives of ordinary people living in the 3rd and 4th Chernobyl zones and who were displaced after the accident.

The visit was organized and coordinated by the representative of Green Cross in Ukraine and partners in Ovruch district, the head of the village council in Nevgody and Nelia Palamarchuk, Project Coordinator in Zhytomyr.

Unfortunately, in Ukraine, about 600'000 people live in areas affected by the Chernobyl accident, of which 180'000 are children. According to the Ukrainian law, the state is obliged to carry out a set of measures to prevent overexposure of the population. The state had an obligation to do everything possible to ensure safe living conditions for all people without exception. And it did what it could. Unfortunately, until now, despite the allocated budget funds, all the problems are not solved. Subsidies and benefits are cut.

In order to meet with the displaced families we visited the Zhytomyr region, which suffered most from the consequences of the accident and large parts of the remote north-eastern regions were radioactively contaminated. GCU organized a visit to the village of Nevgody (the 3rd Chernobyl zone, i.e. the zone of guaranteed voluntary resettlement), where currently displaced families live who, in turn, received houses built by the state and land to run their own farming. During the visit, the Korean photographers together with representatives of the GCU team met with the head of the village council Anatoliy Demydchuk, who kindly showed the guests all that they were interested in, and shared how the village dealt with topical issues. We meet with the principal of the local school Olga Zubriychuk who conducted a short excursion around the school. She spoke about the aid that the rural community received from Green Cross, paying particular attention to children and youth. Guests saw visible results and have been impressed with the work done and witnessed thankful people and heard numerous comments and statements of local residents towards members of Green Cross. Medical examination of children, treatment and rehabilitation in the Carpathians, the activities of the project "Mother and Child" club and social cooperatives are something that Green Cross can help villagers with. Moreover, villagers and the head of the village council, the director of the school thanked again for clean water and bio-eco-toilets in the local school, which, due to Green Cross projects provide the opportunity to fully gain access to safe water and sanitation at present.

As planned, there were meetings with two families which in due time moved to the village of Nevgody after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. We learned from parents about the pressing problems they face in everyday life. Since the beginning of last year almost all subsidies and monthly cash assistance were canceled for people affected by the Chernobyl accident. Families have lost the opportunity to receive benefits related to rehabilitation and treatment. Previously, the state provided all the children affected with the Chernobyl till the age of 8 years the possibility of free meals in pre-school education establishments. Such children are now deprived of the benefit. It is also vital for every family to have access to health care, early screening, treatment and prevention of diseases. Nevertheless, these families were happy to share their achievements and told us how they managed to raise children and maintain family life.

Through implementation of the projects under the International SOCMED Program in the Zhytomyr region it is possible to provide an effective and necessary targeted assistance, which resulted in benefits for many families and their children to receive the opportunity to improve their health and social condition.

The head of the village council expressed his hope that cooperation with Green Cross will be strengthened and developed in the future. In turn, thanks to the partnership and cooperation residents of the village and the whole region will be able to take part in projects to raise awareness and gain knowledge, and children will have chance to undergo medical examination and rehabilitation, which are important aspects in maintaining overall health.

We express our special gratitude to the Korean representatives for their interest in our work and the Chernobyl problems, which are not resolved by this time and can not be ignored by the public. The exhibition, which our new friends from faraway Korea plan to organize, will once again draw attention to the urgent problems and attract additional donors and sponsors to the Chernobyl issues. The accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP) has created many problems that are transformed over time, but do not disappear, said the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. To address these issues material and human resources are consistently attracted. But this is not enough. We hope and believe to gain support of foreign organizations and charities.

Without the support of our partners from Switzerland, we have not been able to implement any single of our project. We are grateful to all our partners, friends and volunteers involved in the International SOCMED Program in Ukraine.

The least thing you can do and help – that's a lot. Even a little help is a step forward for all.

Dmitriy Sapiga

GCU Information and Technical Support

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National Ecological Charitable Organization “Green Cross of Ukraine”

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