Everyone knows that someone will surely suffer. Sometimes it’s a whole nation of people.
On April 26th 1986, I was demobilised from the army and I returned home to Chernobyl. There were rumors about problems at the nuclear power plant, but officially there was no information at all. I remember the streets were covered in a mysterious yellow dust. Soon, together with the other men from my village, I was forced to go into the Chernobyl plant.
I became a part of the road building crew, but five of my friends were taken to dismantle the reactor. Only one of them is alive now. None of us could imagine at that time how deadly it was. Thousands of soldiers, policemen and builders were made to deal with the consequences of that catastrophe, and all were irradiated with a deadly amount of radiation. A year later I was diagnosed with a tumor in my neck, but thanks to God’s mercy, I had a timely diagnosis, and immediate surgery saved my life.
Since then, the whole Sarny region where I live remains depressed. Although it is considered to be relatively clean now, no one wants to invest here. Our people deal with unemployment and bad roads, on top of an epidemic of cancer. Sadly, children are the most vulnerable; there are numerous cases of children with disabilities. Those families who could move to another region, did so a long time ago. Those who are left, require help and support. It’s my privilege to be able to help provide that support.
Volodymyr, who manages the work of Mission Without Borders in the Sarny region of Ukraine
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