Students, parents and teachers to heal the wounds of Chernobyl


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How do you deal with the consequences of such a disaster as Chernobyl after so many years? In a town in Belarus, some students, teachers and parents have joined efforts and refurbished a school. In other villages, people have equipped their kindergarten, or opened a music school, or restored drinking water wells. This is how a joint EU- UNDP Programme – funded to minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl accident – is bringing local communities and administrations together to heal the suffering and to improve the quality of life.

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Students, parents and teachers to heal the wounds of Chernobyl

  1. 1. Civil society and local authorities > BelarusStudents,parentsand teachers to healthe wounds of ChernobylHow do you deal with theconsequences of such a disasteras Chernobyl after so many years? In a town www.enpi-info.euin Belarus, some students, teachers and parents have joinedefforts and refurbished a school. In other villages, people have equipped theirkindergarten, or opened a music school, or restored drinking water wells.This is how a joint EU-UNDP Programme – funded to minimize the consequencesof the Chernobyl accident – is bringing local communities and administrations togetherto heal the suffering and to improve the quality of life.Text by ITAR TASS/ENPI Info CentrePhotos by ITAR TASS/UNDP Minsk – Refurbishing a school; equipping a rehabilitation centre for children with special needs; providing games and physiotherapeutic support to a kindergarten: in a word, healing a suffering territory through community-based small scale projects, mainly addressing children and youth needs. This is the overall aim of a EU-UNDP joint project, launched in August 2010 to the tune of €2.2 million to minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl accident in the territory of the Republic of Belarus. Bringing together communities and local administrations The project took off in August 2010 and was due to be completed by the end of 2010. Sixty different initiatives are being implemented within the project frame-This publication does work. Their overall purpose is to improve people’s life and to rehabilitate a territorynot represent theofficial view of the EC which has suffered enormously from the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.or the EU institutions. What is peculiar about the project, is that individual initiatives areThe EC accepts no being suggested by local authorities and residents proper. “The idea ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 36responsibility or liability This is a series of features on behind this project,” explains Andrey Pinigin, the project manager, “iswhatsoever with regard projects funded by the EU’s Regionalto its content. to improve quality of life through a specific interaction between local Programme, prepared by journalists communities and administrative bodies. Together, common people and photographers on the ground and authorities are identifying and addressing the most urgent social or the ENPI Info Centre. © 2010 ENPI Info Centre / EU and economic problems of a particular region.”
  2. 2. Students, parents and teachers to heal the wounds of Chernobyl p. 2ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 36 And thanks to the project, some of theses problems find an immediate solution. “The idea of a dynamic interaction between communities and administrations is quite new,” continues Pinigin, “and that is why one of the most important elements of our initiative is the organisation of training sessions and workshops for all programme participants. We hope that the interaction model we are establishing could in future“Together, spread throughout Belarus.”common people But there is more to this project than community participation, says Pinigin: “Theand authorities condition for including each initiative into the project was equal financial participa-are identifying tion of the Belarusian side.” Local administrations, communities and internationaland addressing donors have thus joined their efforts in support of something that is more than justthe most a selection of initiatives, but a vision of local development. The project has been of-urgent social ficially endorsed by the Government of Belarus, which has put in charge the Ministryand economic for Emergency Situations. Other partners are the Gomel Executive Committee, asproblems of well as executive committees of four administrative districts in Gomel region – Buda-a particular Koshelev, Vetka, Zhitkovichi and Hoiniki, where the project operates.region” School is our home! Out of the 60 initiatives submitted under the project, many have already been im- plemented. In the farming town of Krivsk a music school has been opened; an anti flash-flood dam has been built in Zapesochiye; in five villages of Buda-Kosheleb, 27 drinking water wells have been restored, while in Velikiye Nemki the secondary school has changed beyond recognition as a result of a fundamental overhaul. In September 2010, three projects were completed in the same region: after major refurbishing a school was opened in Pyhan, a kindergarten in Vetka and the Centre for Correctional-Developmental Training and Rehabilitation for children with special needs was inaugurated in the town of Hoiniki. Thanks to the financial support re- ceived, Vetka kindergarten has been provided with game sets aimed at helping chil- dren improve their skills, as well as up-to-date physiotherapeutic equipment. Rooms were also refurbished, for a total disbursement of €22,600 from the EU and UN, while Belarusian partners matched the funding. Now teachers at the kindergarten are able to put in place a comprehensive system for physical development and rehabilitation, using traditional and non-traditional physical exercise and herbal therapy. As for the school in Pyhan, the project’s authors called their initiative “School is Our “What has been Home!”. Here, the students themselves, their parents and teachers – 50 volunteers all achieved here together – managed to raise the funds to match the international support. For the thanks to the first time in 20 years, and thanks to the building skills acquired by the volunteers, the joint efforts of school was refurbished, opening its door to enthusiastic pupils who could proudly parents and sit in rooms they themselves had helped to restore. teachers, asN The opening of the wellsafter renovation. Finally, the 300 kids with special needs living in Hoiniki region will benefit immensely well as local, from the new equipment acquired national and through the project by the Centre international for Correctional-Developmental organizations, Training and Rehabilitation for chil- is impressive: it dren with special needs of Hoiniki is a celebration town. Recently, the children from of life” the Centre have won prizes in re- gional and national arts festivals, in- cluding a ballet festival called “The Autumn Express”.
  3. 3. Students, parents and teachers to heal the wounds of Chernobyl p. 3ENPI Info Centre – Feature no. 36 Jumping on a trampoline to celebrate life Completing all three projects at once has been a big event for the local communi-N Young patients and staff ties. Adults and children have celebrated their accomplishment through a numberof the Centre for Correctional- of fairs, concerts, theatre performances and competitions. In Hoiniki on inaugurationDevelopmental Training inHoiniki. day, guests visiting the Rehabilitation Centre ended up jumping on the trampoline with the children… “These funds are invested into our future: our kids.” This is what Jean-Eric Holzapfel, Chargé d’affaires for the Euro- pean Union in Belarus, had to say about this project. “What has been achieved here thanks to the “These funds joint efforts of parents and teach- are invested ers, as well as local, national and into our international organizations, is im- future: pressive: it is a celebration of life.” our kids”Area Based Development of theChernobyl-Affected Areas of BelarusSpecific socio-economic problems in the Chernobyl-affected areas of Belarus are addressedthrough a participatory community development approach. Projects are selected thanksto a dynamic interaction between local communities and administrations. InternationalEU and UN funding are being matched by an equal participation of the Belarus side. countries ObjectiveBelarus (Minsk, The project aims to enhance the livelihoods of rural residents in the Chernobyl-affected areas of Belarus.Mogilev and Gomel This is done through the promotion of participatory community development approach, meaning thatdistricts) the planned output of the project is a working model of interaction and cooperation between the rural residents, the local authorities and other organizations and institutions.Timeframe2009-2010 Find out more Project fiche Project results€1,504,259 The ENPI Info Centre is an EU-funded Regional Information and Communication project highlighting the partnership between the EU and Neighbouring countries. The project isENPI info centre managed by Action Global Communications.