HOLIDAY AT TEMPLE DRUID - May 2007
It was the first time that Temple Druid had hosted a group of children from Belarus.
As you can imagine it was a learning experience for everyone involved. The children stayed for a month, which was time enough for them to really enjoy the benefits of time away from the contaminated environment in which they live. Despite it being 20 years since the disaster in Chernobyl, the children are still suffering from the effects of radiation. They were all tired and pale when they first arrived; many of them have very low energy levels and low immune systems, which mean that they become run down very easily. It really was a joy to see them perk up and get some colour in their cheeks after a few days resting up and enjoying the peaceful grounds here at Temple Druid.
It was fantastic for the children to all stay together in the same house, along with their very experienced teacher Svetlana and the resident team and their families. Needless to say, they did much better at learning English than we did at learning Russian!
As you can imagine meal times were a lot of fun! We had plenty of fresh local organic produce, fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, all of which are expensive and difficult to obtain in Belarus. Many of the children tried foods that they had never eaten before such as avocados. Bananas were a big favourite! Much of the food was kindly donated by local people.
It was really amazing to see the children grow in strength as the weeks went by. With their physical return to health came also a tangible raising of the spirits and self-esteem.
One of the most withdrawn of the group, Kostya, suffered from a hole in his throat, which becomes infected, and as a result he often became sick. The change we witnessed in him during the weeks he spent with us was really remarkable. He really grew in health and confidence. During the concert at the end of the stay Kostya was one of the most animated performers.
For us, experiencing for the first time, the healing that can take place in just a few short weeks was a profound and humbling experience. It showed us how important these respite holidays are and what a difference they can make to these young people.
Each morning Svetlana would give the children their lessons. I’m afraid there is no escaping schoolwork, even so far from school! A month afforded us plenty of time for some fantastic days out. Early on in the stay we had weather warm enough for a dip in the sea, for many of the children this was a first. This was an enjoyable and unforgettable experience. Most of our visits were local, to keep travel at a minimum and to get a feel for the local area. Castle Henllys, the local Iron Age fort, Pembroke Castle, a boat trip spotting seal’s, Theatre Mwldan and a wind swept walk up to Dragon Mountain were some of the favourites. Time simply relaxing at Temple Druid was important so as not to exhaust the children. The children loved doing simple things such as picking blackberries walking in the woods and jumping on the trampoline. Catching our young pigs that were constantly escaping was voted one of the best experiences of all!! During these days at home volunteers came to share skills with the children such as storytelling, mural making, Tai chi and horse riding.
The children were able to receive important healthcare during their stay visiting a dentist, optician and a homeopath. Each Friday night was “Music night” culminating in a wonderful and deeply moving performance on the last evening of their stay. It was, of course, not easy to say good-bye after sharing so much with them all. Temple Druid really thrived being full of so much life and laughter.
People who donated time, money and resources made all this possible. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the many people who helped to make it such a successful and magical holiday for all the children. It really would not have been possible without you all!
We are now engaged in planning this year’s group who will be arriving in June. That is very soon!! It has been decided to make the annual visit during the summer so that the countryside of beautiful West Wales can be more fully enjoyed. So we have a lot of fundraising and organization ahead of us. We would warmly welcome any ideas, suggestions, or offers of help and of course donations are very welcome. Please make any cheques out to The Dandelion Trust/Chernobyl Children and send to: The Dandelion Trust at the above address.
All the best from the team at Temple Druid.
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