Monday, April 04, 2005

Ark Trust links Gibraltar, Cornwall and Ukraine in Charity Project

by Alice Mascarenhas

Gibraltar is soon to link up with Cornwall and the Ukraine in a new charity project organized by The Ark Trust. The project is a summer camp in Cornwall for 20 children from the nuclear contaminated area of the Ukraine, near Chernobyl.

“The Ark Trust team have set up a base in Cornwall from which we are directing the operations for this summer. The reason the camp will be in Cornwall is because the farmland on which we are setting it up is being given to us for free,” explained Andrew Baker director of The Ark Trust.


The camp will be called Noah’s Park and will be run for three weeks from mid June to mid July. Many of the children who will be flown over are orphans and have life threatening diseases like cancer or Leukaemia. In fact each child is medically diagnosed as seriously ill - suffering from various blood related diseases like leukaemia, lymphoma, haemophilia and cancer.

“This is our first venture to try and help these sick children. They currently live in a contaminated area existing on water and food from land that contains radioactivity.”

Mr Baker explained that although the original explosion that first spread this radioactive material across the Ukraine and Belarus happened in 1986, the problems today remain on the increase, with many children still suffering the consequences even though they have been born years later.

“These children are the offspring of the original children who survived the blast but the percentage of sickness is now many times greater than before,” he said.

Mr Baker and The Ark Trust team are hopeful the summer camp won’t just give the children a break from their home environment and the problems they face on a daily basis but also give them hope and health. During the three week camp the medical needs of the children will also be seen to.

In Cornwall the team is already arranging a musical spectacular to raise funds for the camp but much finance and many items are still needed to make the camp a reality.

Mr Baker hopes to do this with the help of Gibraltar.

“The Ark Trust team are proud to be taking something of Gibraltar to The West Country in the UK. As the two areas share the same MEP we see this venture as a help in forming links for the future. It is hoped that a representative from Gibraltar will visit the camp to meet the MEP and Cornish dignitaries and build an ongoing relationship that will benefit both communities,” he added.

The Ark Trust has set up a special fund here in Gibraltar for anyone who would like to sponsor or co-sponsor one of these children. The cost per child is £250 for air ticket, visa and passport. People can also help to sponsor any of the practical needs ranging from twenty tubes of toothpaste to a mobile camp kitchen.

“When the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Ukraine exploded in 1986 thousands of people were exposed to radioactivity nearly 300 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb; many have since died from radiation. Now, in 2005, children are still suffering from and being born with health disorders resulting from the Chernobyl nuclear fallout,” continued Mr Baker who explained that the region from where these children hail from is economically very poor; hospitals are ill equipped and under funded.

“Many sick children are unable to receive the adequate health care they so desperately need. Uncontaminated milk, fish, fruit and vegetables are difficult to find as the land and the food grown in the surrounding areas is still highly radioactive and will remain so for thousands of years. Left in their highly polluted environment, without wholesome food and medical care, the survival or cure of children with severely damaged immune systems is very poor.”

One of the reasons for taking the children out of their environment is because the medical profession believe that by removing the children from their contaminated areas it can help reduce by 25% the residual radiation in children. The 1995 United Nations report, added Mr Baker, reported that for every 30 days the children are in a clean, healthy environment their lives are extended by two years.

“Similar camps for the children of Chernobyl have successfully been held in Hereford for several years now and many children from the Chernobyl region of Belarus have participated. The children return home rejuvenated and with hope for a brighter, more normal future than before,” he insisted.

If you would like to sponsor a child and participate in this scheme contact Simone Lynch on 42686 or e-mail the team on arktrust@aol.com.

Cheques are payable to The Ark Trust, to Simone Lynch, The Ark Trust, Montagu Pavilion, 8-10 Queensway, Gibraltar, or can be deposited into the account at Barclays Bank A/C number 01867940.

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