Right now, CCLL is focussing on providing essential services and support to children and families affected by the conflict in Ukraine. But, as Elizabeth explains, their work in the area started long before this current crisis.
First things first, what’s your name and what charity do you work for?
Elizabeth Parker and Chernobyl Children's Lifeline
And what's your role at CCLL?
Which causes does CCLL support and what work do you do?
For over 30 years the charity has worked in both Ukraine and Belarus to support children and their families that have been affected by the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
For the last 10 years and for the foreseeable future this no longer involves only the effects of the radiation fallout, which continues to this day to adversely impact people’s everyday life. The ensuing consequences have also caused much deprivation in welfare, medical, social and education.
As a consequence many people now live below the breadline with little hope of improvement which leads to the Charity Motto of “Giving Hope to Live”.
The charity employs only 2 paid members of staff, our CEO & accountant, but with many hundreds of volunteers we are able to keep all administrative costs to the bare minimum passing on maximum support to our beneficiaries.
We concentrate our efforts in areas of most need, generally in rural villages that receive little or no state support, that have no public transport and non-existent or very limited medical facilities.
Our project list is not exhaustive and can range from supplying food to a family in need; helping with improving living conditions such as installing running water and indoor sanitary facilities whether for an individual family or a school, wherever the need is greatest; and helping with the cost of essential life saving medical procedures, supply of medical consumables and equipment.
During the pandemic we were one of the few sources of PPE for those in the most desperate need.
We also provide medical supplies and equipment for essential needs. Prior to the pandemic we ran a very successful programme of health respite visits to the UK for children from Chernobyl affected territories. These visits improve the immune systems of these children and helps to prevent them developing any of the many conditions linked to the Chernobyl Disaster such as cancer and other non-oncological problems. We hope to be able to resume these visits in due course.
What sort of things do you use donations for?
Paying for lifesaving Cancer Drugs not available locally; installation of toilets and hot water to schools and/or families that previously only had outside "drop hole" toilets and no running water; supporting schools with essential maintenance such as replacement windows, doors, electrical supplies and other requirements to provide safe facilities for children during the sub-zero winters.
Bringing a water supply to homes of families whose only source of water is a well many yards from the home; provision of food and firewood on a regular basis to families living below the breadline.
Our Family Support Project facilitates the financial support of families - this support is provided by sponsors wishing to support a child or family with a specific need; These donations are separate from the general funds and are held in a "Reserved and dedicated Fund Account".
Finally, a program of recuperation visits of up to 28 days for children living in Chernobyl Affected areas of Ukraine and Belarus.
What have you worked on that you're most proud of?
Over 65,000 children have benefited from Health Respite Visits to the UK. Many of whom have gone on to succeed in education and professional life and say that the visit to the UK gave them the inspiration to improve their lives.
100s of children now have access to the internet due to the provision of IT equipment by the charity. This became especially important during the pandemic when all schools were closed.
Many children are alive today solely due to the medical support provided by the Charity.
Over 1,500 Families have had their lives and prospects improved due to the support received from the Sponsors of the Family Support Project.
What are the biggest challenges still to overcome?
Funding remains our biggest challenge, especially as many people today think that as the Chernobyl disaster was over 35 years ago all resulting problems have been resolved.
Chernobyl should not be the "forgotten disaster".
The ongoing crisis in both Ukraine and Belarus makes our operation in many areas extremely difficult, particularly in our Health Respite program for the children. We receive no government support and unlike other charities have no high profile benefactors. We have to rely solely on donations.
We cannot justify or afford to spend vast sums of money on advertising campaigns to raise funds as we have always believed the maximum amount of money should go to benefit those we support.
Other than donating, what’s the one thing people can do to support your charity and its mission?
The best thing people could do in addition to donating is to follow our social media, share our stories, raise awareness of the ongoing needs of the people we support and keep people aware of our work.