From May 19th to the 27th, four staff members made the trip to Ukraine to continue our annual support activities.
This time, we visited three hospitals, two schools, and a kindergarten to gather data, perform thermotherapy, meet with children, and discuss how to use donation funds. We also held a conference about the lasting effects of the nuclear disaster, and helped select candidates for the next Ukraine & Fukushima Children’s Exchange Program. We also delivered our first thermotherapy session at a local sanatorium.
《The current state of Ukrainian schools and hospitals》
On May 21st, we visited the Zhytomyr Regional Children’s Hospital to speak with the chief physician, tour the pediatrics department, and examine the devices that were purchased with last year’s donations. These included a cooking stove used to reheat milk, a machine used to disinfect feeding bottles, and a pot for boiling water. We were told the new stove has been a tremendous help in reducing the electricity bill.
(Left) Talking with the chief physician (Right) The stove purchased with last year’s donations
On the same day, we also visited the pediatric department of the Zhytomyr Regional Psychiatric Hospital. After touring the hospital ward, we folded paper airplanes with the hospitalized children. The hospital had used last year’s donation funds to purchase indoor toys and beds. After lunch, we gave each child a piece of candy from Japan.
（Left) Indoor toys purchased with last year’s donations
（Right) Folding origami with the children
On May 23rd, we visited the No. 3 school in the city of Ovruch. As part of a cultural exchange, we introduced traditional Japanese games (such as kendama, top-spinning, origami, and cat’s cradle), competed in a paper airplane contest, and shared Japanese foods and drinks (green tea, miso soup, snacks). The paper airplane contest was very fun for the kids, with each group receiving their own prize. The Japanese snacks were also popular.
（Left) Struggling to wind a top… （Right) Paper origami hearts!
This year, CheFuKo donated funds to following seven institutions:
① Chernobyl Hostage Fund Approximately 110,000 yen (1,000 USD)
② Zhytomyr Regional Children’s Hospital Approximately 88,000 yen (800 USD)
③ Zhytomyr Regional Psychiatric Hospital Approximately 77,000 yen (700 USD)
④ Ovruch District Hospital Obstetrics and Gynecology Department Approximately 55,000 yen (500 USD)
⑤ Zhytomyr School No.12 Approximately 55,000 yen (500 USD)
⑥ Ovruch School No. 3 Approximately 55,000 yen (500 USD)
⑦ Gradovich Kindergarten Approximately 55,000 yen (500 USD)
Before our trip, we discussed with these facilities to determine what kind of support they needed, then decided on the total sum of donations.
Our donations are made possible by your continued support. We would like to express our deepest gratitude.
For our conference, we invited local pediatricians, neurologists, members of the Chernobyl victim’s association, former Chernobyl liquidators (firefighters and military officers), and citizens who were forced to evacuate at the time of the accident. The topic of discussion was the impact the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had on their lives. As participants from Japan, we talked about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, current circumstances in Fukushima, and our activities as CheFuKo.
The pediatrician, whose job was treating children suffering from the aftereffects of the nuclear disaster, explained that children determined as victims of the nuclear disaster were required to take regular physical examinations. Approximately 70% of these children exhibited negative health effects, often in their eyes, nervous systems, endocrine systems, and thyroid glands.
The liquidators and former evacuees shared intimate stories about their own experiences surrounding the nuclear disaster, and discrimination they faced after evacuating. 33 years after the incident, some of the speakers told us they were still too scared to recall all of the events that took place. It was painful to see how profoundly the disaster affected the lives of the Ukrainian people.
《Selecting candidates for the Exchange Program》
Continuing our efforts from last year, we took part in the final selection of the candidates for our annual Ukraine & Fukushima Children’s Exchange Program. The selection process is meant to find 4 junior high school students from Ovruch School No.3 to invite to Japan. This year, 9 candidates from the original 16 applicants made it to the final selection process. Each student demonstrated their unique skills, then answered several questions including “Why did you apply for the Exchange Program?” and “What do you want to do in Japan?”. Some kids sang, danced, and played the guitar, while others brought in their art creations.
The results of the selection were announced at the end of the next day. It was wonderful to see the children’s’ faces light up at the announcement. We are looking forward to hosting them at the end of August!
(Left) A surprised and happy smile (Right) The four children chosen for this year’s program
Last September, we visited the Kapitanivka Sanitorium, located in the suburbs of Kiev, to gather data. After discussing the possibility of conducting thermotherapy there, we visited the facility again this year to conduct thermotherapy on its patients.
(Left) The sanitorium building (Right) Inside the facility
When we visited the Chernobyl Hostage Fund’s office to perform thermotherapy, we got to see Dmytro, the boy we had visited on previous trips to Ukraine. Dmytro is now 6 years old, and suffers from polio due to complications involved with his birth. He seemed to enjoy he thermotherapy session and how it helped to relax his body.
(Left) Dmytro’s thermotherapy session (Right) Inside the facility
This year, we performed thermotherapy at the following facilities:
① Kapitanivka Sanatorium 20 people
② Chernobyl Hostage Fund 21 people
③ Gradovich Kindergarten 13 people
Total: 54 people
During this trip, we were able to visit 7 facilities where we had previously sent our donations. Each facility had made the most out of the donations to purchase the items and equipment they needed. However, they are still in need of continued support. We are grateful to be able to work with our supporters in Japan to improve the lives of the children in Ukraine.