2014 to 2015 | Photoessay: From Chernobyl with love
In April 26, 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Station # 4 reactor blew up and burned 190 tons of highly radioactive Uranium and graphite releasing a large amount of these particles in the atmosphere within a radius of 140,000 square kilometers. It is considered the worst nuclear accident in history, as directly related to the deaths caused by the explosion and to the costs in containment operation and cleaning of radioactive waste, and one of the only two events classified with the maximum level (7), together with Fukushima disaster.
An United Nations 2005 report attributed 56 deaths to the incident to date and estimated that about 4,000 people will die from diseases related to radiation in the coming years, however poverty and isolation to which the region was condemned from that day on is one of the main problems that its inhabitants face: the lack of industry and companies in general lead to a high unemployment rate and have left without prospects thousands of families who remain in most cases living almost exclusively from what the contaminated land offers them.
According to Ivankiv hospital 85 % of children have chronic diseases, especially gastrointestinal and respiratory.
In 2009, after a year of visits and formalities with the Ukrainian government, a Portuguese association started the Blue Summer project, which was similar to what was being done in Spain for several years, aimed to accommodate children aged 6 to 16 years and provide them a month or two of summer holidays with a host family outside the contamination zone. These holidays abroad were meant to open their horizons by putting them in contact with new experiences, but also with a healthy environment and away from the radiation.
The recent dispute between Ukraine government and separatist groups has brought a new meaning to this project and to the work developed by these associations since some children now have parents and siblings participating in the armed conflict.
In Portugal the project started with 9 children. In 2016 it will raise to 35 and the number of interested host families continues to grow. In total, about 900 children from different affected villages in Ukraine and Belarus are sent to European countries during the summer, including Spain, France, Italy, among others.