Posted 5 August 2011
A group of teenage girls from Belarus had a lesson in animal handling at Harper Adams yesterday as part of a recuperation break in the UK.
The girls handled animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, lizards, a snake and even a hissing cockroach at the Companion Animal House on campus.
The visit to the University College was part of a break organised by the Endon Chernobyl Children’s Project – a charity that raises money to provide young people affected by the disaster with a holiday to help them recover from illnesses such as cancer and leukaemia.
This is the third time that young people from Belarus have been to Harper Adams and it is hoped that it will become a regular occurrence for those visiting the UK.
Lindsey Gilbert, Group Secretary for the charity, said: “During their visit to the UK they stay with a host family who will look after them and take them on trips around the local area.
“We believe that radiation will remain a problem in Belarus for many years to come.”
Radiation levels in Belarus remain high, 25 years on from the disaster, which saw a nuclear power plant at Chernobyl explode. The country was declared a ‘zone of international ecological disaster.’
A short visit of a month to a ‘clean’ country can boost immune systems by around two years, particularly if the visit takes place during the summer, when radiation levels are at their peak.
Lindsey added: “Visiting Harper Adams and meeting the animals has taken their minds off their illnesses. It all adds to their experience of Western life.”
The charity has organised trips to the UK for 14 years, and raise funds through events such as coffee mornings, car boot sales, cycle runs, dinner dances and quizzes.
A group of young children and their mothers also visited the Companion Animal around two months ago and the recently formed Stafford branch of the charity is also planning to host its first group of young people this summer.
For more information about the charity and ways to be involved, visit http://www.chernobyl-children.org.uk/