by Teddi Treybig
April 28, 1999
This paper will tell the story of a small group of committed doctors, being assisted by other concerned humanitarians, who patiently serve the innocent and youngest victims of events that transpired before many of them were even born. These afflicted children don’t personally remember what happened on April 26, 1986, but their bodies are a living testimony to the enduring legacy left by the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor on that eventful day.
Table of Contents
One Doctor’s Efforts
Polyclinic No 2
Centre for Medical-Social Rehabilitation of Disabled Children
Meet Some of Revival’s Children
What comes to mind when you hear the word Chernobyl? The greatest nuclear disaster of our lifetime? Official government denials and cover-ups? Public outrage?
Thirteen years have now passed since Chernobyl’s “15 minutes of fame,” and as we approach a new millennium, the international community has largely forgotten the thousands who still suffer in Chernobyl’s aftermath.
Most countries on our planet have citizens that are hungry, diseased, and impoverished. The sheer magnitude of suffering that occurs daily on Earth is beyond our comprehension, so we turn our attention to more manageable concerns and try not to dwell upon conditions over which we have no responsibility or influence. Does our inattention, however, lessen the challenges and pain being faced by countless millions throughout the globe?
In many nations, there are dedicated and caring people who quietly serve, as best they can, with limited physical resources and unlimited love. This paper will tell an ongoing story that needs to be told. It is a story about a scar, not just to a small section of the earth, but a scar in our global habitat. More importantly, however, it is a story about the dedicated men and women who are diligently working for its healing.
The material covered in this report has been gleaned from extensive firsthand accounts provided by several Ukrainian medical doctors, a Ukrainian sociologist, a retired British surgeon, and an American pastor of Ukrainian descent who has been instrumental in bringing these various professionals together as they mutually work to improve medical care for Chernobyl’s children.
This story begins with a brief biographical sketch of each of its main characters:
· Dr. Vasiliy Pasechnik: Director, Chernihiv Centre of Medical-Social Rehabilitation of Disabled Children, (affectionately referred to by its staff as the “Revival” Centre). Dr. Pasechnik is a pediatric doctor, a candidate of medical sciences, and has been awarded the standing of “Distinguished Doctor of Ukraine.” He was born and raised in the Chernihiv area (about 40 miles east of Chernobyl) and has remained there since the Chernobyl accident, continuing his lifelong service to the local citizens.
· Dr. Anna Yakubova: Director, Polyclinic No. 2, Chernihiv. Dr. Yakubova , also a pediatrician, grew up in the small village of Pakul, which is about 25 miles from Chernobyl. Her widowed mother continues to live there in the family home.
· Dr. Natalya Zenchenko: Neurologist; works at the Revival Centre. Dr. Zenchenko is Russian and grew up in Omsk, Siberia. Her family home was 200 miles from Russian atomic trial zones and about 150 miles from the Urals nuclear power plant, which experienced an accident in 1957. Dr. Zenchenko’s father died of gastric cancer, her grandmother died of brain cancer, and her grandfather died of skin cancer. Her mother, who is also a doctor (specializing in epilepsy), lives in Chernihiv, too.
· Dr. Yuri Sayenko: Dr. Sc. (Econ.); Deputy-Director, the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev. During Dr. Sayenko’s long and distinguished career, he has published more than 150 articles in Soviet, Russian, Ukrainian, and international periodicals and scientific journals. Between June 1992 and December 1995, Dr. Sayenko conducted extensive research (consisting of over 10,000 interviews) on the physical, psychological, and sociological effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the affected population. He has shared his findings at numerous international conferences (Strasbourg, 1994; Zurich, 1994; Geneva, 1994; Colorado Springs, 1994; Greece, 1995; Vienna, 1996). A sampling of his research is included in the Appendix at the conclusion of this pape
· Dr. Maurice Frohn: semi-retired British surgeon; thyroid specialist; lives in Kent, U.K. During the summer of 1995, Dr. Frohn read an article published by a relief organization, International Children’s Medical Aid, entitled, The Suffering Legacy of the Forgotten Children of Chernobyl. It claimed that 800,000 Ukrainian children were affected by diseases caused by radiation and lacked even the simplest of pain relief or medical care. In October of the same year, Dr. Frohn was introduced to Victor Kubik, an American pastor who is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian. They decided to visit the Chernobyl area and assess what services were being provided and what needs they could help fulfill.
During April 1996, Dr. Frohn and Victor Kubik spent two weeks in Ukraine, touring hospitals and clinics in the Chernobyl area and speaking at length with doctors, nurses, and local citizens. Dr. Frohn compiled his diary from the trip into a 22-page report, The Chernobyl Reconnaissance, which is included in its entirety in the Appendix following this paper. Since his initial Ukrainian visit, Dr. Frohn has founded the International Chernobyl Children’s Trust in Great Britain. He spends much of his time lecturing throughout the United Kingdom to raise funds and collect clothing, toys, etc., for Chernobyl’s children.
· Victor Kubik: American church pastor; lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Victor was born to Ukrainian refugees living in a displaced persons camp in Hanover, Germany, in 1947. His family immigrated to the United States in 1949. Victor speaks fluent Ukrainian and Russian, and has traveled extensively throughout the world, including seven visits to Ukraine since 1992. Victor is in the process of forming a charitable trust (501C3) called LifeNets, which will assume responsibility for the humanitarian projects in Ukraine (a rehabilitation center for children affected by Chernobyl’s disaster), Estonia (a counseling center for troubled youth), and Malawi (a family health clinic), in which he is currently involved. Since his first trip to Chernobyl in 1996, Victor has been instrumental in sending 20 tons of physical supplies (medical equipment, toys, clothes, baby food, etc.), $250,000 worth of medicine (which he is able to purchase at 4%-6% of cost), and thousands of dollars in monetary aid to the Revival Centre in Chernihiv. The medicine and aid are shipped free by the U.S. State Department’s Operation Support Freedom. Victor maintains a comprehensive Website, www.kubik.org, where he posts frequent updates of his numerous humanitarian projects. A sampling of this information is also included in the Appendix following this report.
The nuclear power plant at Chernobyl lies in the flat woodlands of northern Ukraine near the Belarus border. Rods of uranium dioxide, moderated with graphite fueled the facility. Water cooling circuits raised steam to the turbines. On April 25, 1986, plant engineers began conducting tests to determine whether the generator, while freewheeling, could power the cooling pumps after its steam supply had been cut off (as might occur during a power failure). At 1:23 a.m. on April 26th a steam explosion dislodged the 1,000-ton steel and concrete cover plate; three seconds later the reactor exploded and ejected molten fuel. The exposed graphite caught fire, which released radionuclides into the atmosphere for the next ten days. These spread throughout most of Europe, and were irregularly distributed to the ground by rainfall (Frohn, 1996). An estimated 50 tons of radioactive material were released – ten times the amount of fallout at Hiroshima (The New York Times, April 14, 1991).Revival Centre has only been in operation since June 19,1996, yet has achieved dramatic results in its short existence. Over 400 different children were served during its first year of operation. During the first half of 1997, 230 children had already received benefits from its programs. A new wing has recently been added, and the Centre continues to reach out to as many needy children as it is able to help (Kubik, 1999).
At the reactor, emergency personnel and firefighters received high doses of beta and gamma radiation and thermal burns. Twenty-one workers died within the next four weeks. The town where most of the plant workers’ families lived, which was located about a mile away, was evacuated the following day. 135,000 other Ukrainians, living within an 18-mile radius of the plant, were also relocated (Frohn, 1996). The “official” death count from the results of the explosion remains listed as 33 persons, although USA Today reported on April 4, 1991, that closer to 10,000 people had died in the five years following the accident.
“Of the many radionuclides distributed by the plume, the most dominant were isotopes of iodine, cesium, strontium and plutonium, associated with highly radioactive fuel particles and dust. The external exposure to radioactivity in most of Europe was less than would be experienced by a London-Spain jet return flight. It was the internal exposure which was significant, the highest doses being received by children drinking fresh milk from herds grazing contaminated pastures. Green leaf vegetables, lamb, fruit and rainwater were further sources of internal exposure” (Frohn, 1996, p. 2).
“Some areas near Chernobyl have even now reported the total absence of animal life. Dead rats, mice and other wild or stray animals have been found in massive quantities. Mutations due to the radiation have resulted in farm animals being born without heads or eyes or internal organs. This is due to the fact that radiation levels near Chernobyl have grown higher as a result of the radioactive contamination that has now entered the soil and the food chain possibly affecting hundreds of thousands of living beings, according to David Marples of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. …Today it is believed that over 4 million people in the Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia still live on contaminated ground” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Website, 1991).
From the time of the 1917 Revolution until Mikhail Gorbachev introduced glasnost (early in 1986), all news reporting within the Soviet Union was “official,” meaning it had been approved (and probably provided) by Communist party representatives. Consequently, most pre-1986 news stories covered events that supported and validated the party system – agricultural successes, plant production quotas, the space program, positive economic news, military interventions that supported political goals, etc. There was little reporting of negative events within the Soviet Union, including natural disasters (Ward, 1999).
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster was an early test of how “open” glasnost really was. Initially, government officials reverted back to their former policies and tried to deny, then to downplay, the disaster. Finally, two weeks after the radiation leak, a somewhat comprehensive news conference was held. Officials still tried to minimize the magnitude of the disaster, but that may have been as much from their ignorance as it was from trying to cover things up (Ward, 1999).
On Friday, April 26, 1986, Dr. Natalya Zenchenko, a neurologist in the town of Chernihiv, which is located about 40 miles east of Chernobyl, observed an unusually large number of helicopters and thought they were on a military exercise. There was no mention of the accident on the local radio station. On Monday, there were rumors about the nuclear plant explosion from wives of firemen who helped at the scene. The radio station had still not reported the events (Frohn, 1996).
The Chernihiv Health Minister evacuated his own children and grandchildren while he told local residents that everything was under control. Concerned doctors gathered together and questioned the City Council, but were told to mind their own business. To further reassure area residents, government officials made the decision to proceed with the planned May Day festivities in Chernihiv. Some of the top officials (who were wearing protective clothing and had already evacuated their families from the area), were on the parade route by the Lenin Monument, smiling at the happy crowds and accepting garlands of flowers from scantily clad young girls – thus “proving” that conditions were safe (Frohn, 1996).
TASS (the official Soviet news agency) first ran a story about the Chernobyl accident in Pravda’s Ukrainian regional newspaper on May 6, 1986. It appeared about a third of the way down on the right side of the front page. The short article expressed thanks for all the help offered, but stated that it was not needed. It also declared that the accident had been blown out of proportion, and that readers should trust the government’s handling of the situation (Frohn, 1996).
A second article appeared in Pravda on May 11th and was located on the bottom of page three. Readers were again reassured that the situation was stabilizing. It wasn’t until May 17th that local news media alerted residents to the potential benefits of taking potassium iodide to help block the uptake of radioactive iodine by the thyroid (Frohn, 1996).
One Doctor’s Efforts
Shortly after the accident, Dr. Vasiliy Pasechnik went to Dnepropetrovskaya, a village near the Chernobyl reactor. He measured the radiation with a Geiger counter. There was a very high level of radiation, yet children were running and playing in the area. He reported his findings to the local authorities and was told, “You do your job, and we will figure out the dose that these kids can take" (Frohn, 1996).
“The head of a collective farm did not know what to tell the people, so he gathered an action committee and asked Dr. Pasechnik to tell them what to do. He told them to bathe and change their clothes, but there were no baths in the village. He told them not to drink the milk and to use powdered milk instead, but there was no powdered milk. Some people panicked, while others contemplated. Some drove 50 km to Chernihiv and asked for powdered milk at a farm. They were told that Dr. Pasechnik was causing a panic and other towns would not let him in” (Frohn, 1996, p. 14).
Dr. Pasechnik’s findings were confirmed by another doctor. He wrote a report outlining steps that should be taken to protect the local populous, including giving potassium iodide to the children. The report was dated May 6, 1986, and he personally delivered it to the Chernihiv City Council. The report was hidden and denied. City fathers told the doctors they were not doing their jobs properly (Frohn, 1996).
Dr. Yuri Sayenko is the Deputy-Director of the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which is located in Kiev. Between June, 1992, and December, 1995, he conducted several extensive research studies on the socio-psychological effects of the Chernobyl disaster on more than 10,000 residents living in affected areas (Sayenko, 1996).
The results of his research are mind-boggling. “Apathy, passivity, paternalism, lack of initiative, loss of future, fear of suffered environment, loss of belief in support from the side of authorities, syndrome of [feeling] doomed, fear for health and future of children is the uncomplete [sic] list of typical characteristics of the suffered people” (Sayenko 1996, p.1).
“The most striking unexpectedness of Chernobyl has been its socio-psychological strike at the population. Ecological, economical and medical post-effects could be foreseen, to some extent. …However, it has been Chernobyl that has demonstrated tremendous destroying impact on socio-psychologic sphere of vast masses of population – up to 6,000,000 of people (including Kiev inhabitants, suffered, in fact, but not recognized officially, as such ones)” (Sayenko, 1996, p. 3). “The residents of ‘clean’ areas do not differ in the least, in their socio-psychological self-appraisals, from the residents of radioactively contaminated territories. This fact indicates that the radius of socio-psychologic impact is vastly larger than the radius of [the] radioactively suffered territory” (Sayenko, 1996, p. 5).
Some of the more alarming statistics from Dr. Sayenko’s research include:
· 60% reported being fearful of eating food
· 60% reported feeling fearful, helpless, unable to sleep and short of temper
· 20% noted a lack of appetite
· 30% reported they had lost interest in living
· 45% answered the question, “What do you intend to do to find a way out of this difficult situation?” with “Nothing.”
· The majority of the population is in an “infantile” emotional state; they have become a “community of the doomed,” relying mainly upon God, sometimes on themselves, their close relatives, and state aid, for their life.
· 90% are only able to concentrate on their own health, and the health of their children and other close relatives. “The population, irrespective of residence area and degree of its radioactive contamination, is fully concentrated on the problems of elementary survival” (Sayenko, 1996, p. 5).
A comprehensive overview of Dr. Sayenko’s findings is included in the Appendix.
Polyclinic No. 2
“Under socialism everyone was born perfect and so no calculation was made for abnormalities” (Frohn, 1996, p. 5). In 1991, after Ukraine’s separation from the Soviet Union, it was decreed by the Council of Ministers of Ukraine that every oblast (county) should have a rehabilitation center for disabled children. Chernihiv is one of only six capital cities of the 25 oblasts in Ukraine to have such a center. Polyclinic No. 2 was designed to serve 15,000 children, but now serves around 33,000. The city is divided into terrWitorial units of 600-800 children who come under one doctor at the Polyclinic. About 20% of the patients are referred to specialists, either within the clinic or to a hospital in a major city for surgery or special therapy (Frohn, 1996).
The Chernihiv oblast has 262,000 children; 140,000 have been affected by radiation. Of the 62,000 children in the city of Chernihiv, two-thirds have received a “Certificate of Radiation Risk,” which enables them to receive special benefits and to be studied until they are 40 years old. Only 1% of the area’s children are considered to be perfectly normal (Frohn, 1996).
The incidence of disease among children has increased by a factor of three since 1986. “The first effect of radiation is to reduce the competence of the immune system leading initially to respiratory and middle ear infections followed by diseases of the nervous system, such as paralysis and epilepsy. There is much neurosis and psychosis. It is emphasized that these are directly attributed to the effect of radiation on the brain and not due to radiophobia. Then are followed diseases of the endocrine, renal and gastro-enterological systems” (Frohn, 1996, p. 4).
“When radiated children are traveling they are obvious. They are thin, gaunt and with small bones. They are hyperactive, cannot concentrate and cry easily. They complain of headaches, insomnia and socialize poorly” (Frohn, 1996, p. 7). Radiation can upset the vomiting center in the medulla oblongata causing vomiting up to 30 times daily, resulting in a coma. This condition is treated with intravenous fluid therapy and sedation.
Those who were entering puberty at the time of the accident have been especially affected by the radiation. Many of them are now parents – only 3% of their children are born without abnormalities. Many babies show jaundice and anemia and many are premature. 70% of babies have central nervous system diseases. The sperm of fathers who were workers at the nuclear plant show chromosomal damage and have produced children with malignancies and congenital abnormalities. Boys entering puberty are impotent, have deformed spermatozoa and are of a weak physique. Cancer of the thyroid in children was unknown in Chernihiv before 1986. The first cases appeared in 1989. Today, Chernihiv has the world’s highest incidence of thyroid cancer in children (Frohn, 1996).
Alcoholism among children is also increasing. Children start drinking at a very young age and ten-year-olds have been brought to the Polyclinic with alcohol poisoning. A bottle of vodka costs one-third the price of one kg of meat (Frohn, 1996).
Polyclinic No. 2 has two doctors who have served 60,000 emotionally disturbed children, using psychotherapy and antidepressants. They are also the only clinic in the area with a hot line for children in distress to telephone for help. There are no family support services in Chernihiv. “Children are trained to live on ‘enthusiasm’ because there is nothing else” (Frohn, 1996, p. 10).
Centre for Medical-Social Rehabilitation of Disabled Children (“Revival”)
The Revival Centre was founded as a result of a directive from Ukrainian cabinet ministers on January 27, 1992, by a committee commissioned to determine the physically impaired state of Ukraine. The city of Chernihiv also issued a directive on October 5, 1992, making the Centre accountable to the city. Although the government founded the Centre, it is not a government medical organization, but has a collective form of ownership (Kubik, 1997).
The city of Chernihiv pays for Revival Centre’s heat and utilities. All other expenses are covered through charging tuition and from charitable donations. The Centre operates as a non-income organization, since any profit is subject to a 30% government tax. All workers are paid the standard government-determined wage. A neurologist with high qualifications earns 180 hryvna (about $100 US) per month. Monthly tuition is based on 28 days of treatment and is set at 330 hryvna ($183 US); but it costs the Centre 395 hryvna ($220 US) to provide monthly services for each child. The government pays 20% of the tuition for those children who have been certified as victims of Chernobyl. Due to extreme economic difficulties in the area, most parents are unable to pay for their children’s treatment – thus, Revival Centre relies heavily on donations from outside sources (Kubik, 1997).
Revival Centre is a one-of-a-kind institution in Ukraine. The entire country only has half a dozen medical rehabilitation centers, and the Revival Centre is the only one that is treating children to be fully integrated into society. This concept is virtually unknown in the post-Soviet world. The Centre offers medical, psychological, pedagogical and social help for handicapped children, those with serious illnesses of the nervous system, or orthopedic pathology that could lead to being disabled. The Centre is designed for 30 children to attend each day, but the numbers are generally closer to 48 (Kubik, 1997).
Dr. Vasiliy Pasechnik, a pediatric doctor with the highest qualifications, directs Revival Centre. He is ably assisted by another pediatrician, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, orthopedic therapists, two medical psychologists, plus pedagogues in computer sciences, workers to help develop the intellect and correct speech deficiency, and nine nurses. The Centre also employs a bookkeeper, sanitary workers, a housekeeper, a chauffeur, and cafeteria workers. The entire staff numbers 31 (Kubik, 1997).
Lydia Kubik-Bauer, Victor’s sister, visited the Revival Centre in November of 1996. She shared the following observations upon her return to the United States:
The tour of the (Revival) Centre was one of the highlights of my trip. It was the first institution I saw in Ukraine that was moving FORWARD rather than just trying to survive. …The one word that describes the Centre best is “un-Soviet” (if there is such a word). The Centre is warm, bright, colorful, cheerful, unique. The children come to the Centre daily for 4 weeks of therapy. They are given instructions for continued therapy at home. If they continue to improve, they get to come back for another 4-week round of therapy that they all want to do because it is so much fun.
The Centre fully integrates the physical, emotional, and social needs of the children in their treatment; a concept new to Ukraine. Another unique feature of the Centre is that the parents are actively involved in the therapies of their children. A parent or guardian accompanies the child daily to the Centre. The child goes through the different therapies daily: physical therapy, massage, hydrotherapy, vocational training (sewing, handcrafts, woodworking, computers) and is seen by physicians for medical needs: shots, vitamins, testing, etc.
Another “forward” thinking concept of the Centre is that it is located next to a daycare center for well children. Previously, in Soviet days, disabled people were never integrated into society. Prior to this visit, I had spent a total of 5 months in the Soviet Union and had NEVER seen one disabled person. I commented on this to the staff of the Centre and they said that in old Soviet days anything outside of a range called “normal” was not recognized. This concept applied to both sides of the range called “normal.” Dr. Zenchenko is very interested in starting a program for gifted children in the future, another new concept contrary to old Soviet ideology (Kubik, 1996).
Meet Some of Revival’s Children
· Olga, age 12, is a bright-eyed little girl who loves dancing and gymnastics. In
1995, she fell off her bike and complained of stomach pains. The initial diagnosis was appendicitis; however, further examinations revealed cancer in her pancreas, which was subsequently removed.
· While undergoing a routine health check-up at school, 14-year-old Lena was
discovered to have thyroid cancer. Although her surgery was successful, she remains emotionally fragile and requires constant psychological support.
· Vitaly, 10, cannot walk or use his arms. His paralysis is due to complete atrophy of the muscles in his upper and lower limbs. Vitaly’s suffering began before his birth. His mother lived one mile from Chernobyl at the time of the accident, so her son was radiated while in her womb (London Weekend Telegraph, 1996).
· Sergei and Ira are twins born on June 15, 1994. Their mother was five-years-old and their father was eleven when the nuclear plant at Chernobyl erupted. The twins were born prematurely at 32 weeks gestation. They have had recurrent infections and show retarded development with cerebral paralysis. Their therapy combines physiotherapy, cerebral stimulating drugs, speech therapy, and the use of developmental toys (Kubik, 1998).
From the initial concern of two men who met by chance in 1995, Maurice Frohn from Great Britain and Victor Kubik from the United States, an incredible synergistic ripple has begun.
The British Ambassador to Ukraine, Mr. Roy Reeve, has taken a keen interest in the Revival Centre in Chernihiv. He cut the ribbon at its opening on June 19, 1996, and returned a year later to speak at its first anniversary celebration luncheon. “The Embassy has a small staff in this large country with which to help with what is a world catastrophe. The British government will support the Centre and we will establish friendships in Chernihiv, which will be repeatedly visited. A toast to the people of Chernihiv and to closer links between our two countries” (Kubik, 1997, p. 5).
Also present at Revival Centre’s first anniversary celebration, were three representatives from a Belgium relief organization, Recht op Toekomst (Right to the Future), which has donated a hydrotherapy pool and other aid to the Centre (Kubik, 1997).w
The trustees of the International Chernobyl Children’s Trust gathered for their annual board meeting on March 24-25, 1999. On March 24th, they met at the Royal Society of Medicine, a non-political, charitable foundation with 17,000 fellows (including Dr. Maurice Frohn), located at 1 Wimpole Street, London. Present at the meeting were the Ukrainian Ambassador to Britain, Volodymer Vassylenko, Second Secretary Natalia Martynenko, Royal Society of Medicine President Lord Soulsby, Executive Director Anne Gronock, Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine, Jack Tinker, and the trustees of
the International Chernobyl Children’s Trust (Kubik, 1999).
The discussions centered upon strategies for promoting professional ties between doctors in Ukraine and the United Kingdom through the exchange of professionals and fellowships, as well as through the sponsoring of topical conferences (Kubik, 1997).
In the United States, Victor Kubik has been a one-man band promoting awareness of, and directing aid to, the Revival Centre in Chernihiv. Since 1996, he has been a tireless worker in promoting Lafayette, Indiana’s annual fundraiser, Day of Thanks. The proceeds from this expanding event benefit a local breast cancer support group, as well as the Revival Centre in Chernihiv (Kubik, 1998).
Victor’s influence has inspired church youth groups in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to collect clothing, toys, and money for Chernobyl’s children. He has also established relationships with numerous medical clinics in Minnesota, which have donated used medical equipment and other aid to the Revival Centre (Kubik, 1998). Perhaps Victor’s greatest influence, however, is his fluency in Ukrainian and Russian, combined with his contagious enthusiasm and generous spirit. This powerful combination has enabled professionals from varied countries, languages, and cultures to unite in a common goal of relieving the ongoing suffering of innocent children in Chernobyl’s aftermath.
“Ukraine is in a crisis economically and socially. The nation’s health has significantly decreased since the Chernobyl disaster eleven years ago. The nation has also gone through unhealthy social changes that need to be known to the world. Our nation has the resources, knowledge and skills to be revived. What it needs most now is support from people in the West who can help us find solutions to our problems” (Sayenko, 1997, p. 1).
Despite incredible economic constraints, the Chernihiv Centre of Medical-Social Rehabilitation of Disabled Children (Revival Centre) continues to survive as an oasis of hope for the children it serves. Its highly competent and dedicated staff combine limited physical resources with unlimited love in their daily endeavors.
Both physical and informational aid would be of benefit to Revival Centre.
· Dr. Vasiliy Pasechnik and Dr. Maurice Frohn are planning a visit to the United States in mid-August, 1999. They are finalizing details for visits to a rehabilitation clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. They are desirous of including additional visits and interviews with other medical facilities and universities that are interested in discussing their work. Victor Kubik will accompany them and provide translation for Dr. Pasechnik.
· Medical specialists to visit the Revival Centre – Visiting professionals would be able to learn from Chernihiv’s nuclear experience, plus contribute their knowledge and expertise to Revival’s challenges.
· Training opportunities for Revival’s Staff – Revival’s already competent staff would welcome opportunities to visit medical facilities and universities in other countries to increase their effectiveness in treating disabled children.
· Medical equipment – As medical facilities in the United States upgrade their equipment, the out-dated machinery would be of inestimable value in Chernihiv. Free shipping is available through U.S. State Department programs, such as Operation Support Freedom.
· Medicines – All types of medication are desperately needed by Revival Centre, including antibiotics, epilepsy medicine, vaccines, and even aspirin and aspirin substitutes. These are virtually unobtainable within Ukraine and must be supplied through sources in developed nations.
· Financial support – Since its inception, the tuition charged by Revival Centre has never adequately covered its costs of operation. Most families of the children being served simply do not have the required funds, nor can the local city government help beyond covering the Centre’s basic utility bills each month. The Ukrainian government does contribute 20% of the fees for those children who have been designated as victims of Chernobyl, but this is not a significant source of income. Revival Centre has gratefully received donations from concerned individuals in Great Britain and the United States. However, there is an on-going need for continued financial support.
The previous account is only a fraction of Chernobyl’s story that could be told. It is a story of intense and continuing pain, poverty, and suffering. But more importantly, it is a story of quiet dedication, loving service, and of hope for a brighter future. Dr. Vasiliy Pasechnik expressed the following comment during the first anniversary celebration luncheon at Revival Centre: “It is the willing heart that does everything and revolutionary things are being done in Chernihiv” (Kubik, 1997, p. 5).
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