Meet The Children

Polina (Hosted by Natalie and Sean)
This will be Polina's fourth visit and even though she is small, she's slowly becoming one of the elders in the group. Each year her English has grown to match her confidence and by this time next year she'll probably want the interpreters' job. She doesn’t really mind what the activity is as long as she is active - this can be playing sports, bouncing on trampolines or becoming a fish in the swimming pool. Polina turns ten this year and we are privileged to see her maturing into a kind, young lady...with a touch of diva! 
Polina (Hosted by Louise and Simon)
Polina is 9 years old and this is her 3rd visit. Polina fits in so well with her host family, you would swear she’s always been with them. At first a little shy but soon she settled in. Polina wants to be constantly busy and entertained, the only time she is still is when she is eating. And eating is her number one activity. Polina certainly likes to make the most of the food available to her and a trip to the supermarket brings lots of excitement. Polina is very kind hearted and loving, she is most confident with adults but has some great friends in the group and loves playing with her host sisters.
Nikita (Hosted by Emma and Stephen)
Nikita is 8 and this will be his 2nd visit, he enjoys playing football at the park with our teenage boys and wearing his LFC kit everyday. Nikita was very shy when he 1st arrived last year but by the end of the 4 weeks we found he had an infectious giggle and had become more confident. His favourite food is fruit, chicken, potatoes, bread and jam and a cup of Chay. He likes to watch ‘Masha the bear’ cartoons and the Minions
Arseniy (Hosted by Paul and Wendy )
Arseniy is 11 years old and this year will be his 5th visit to the UK. Arseniy is a confident, loving comedian. His antics can have you rolling around laughing! He is very bright and perceptive and always surprises us with something he knows or can read in English! He loves to be helpful and really makes the most of his visits, soaking it all up like a sponge. He wants to be the big brother of the group but is a softie at heart and loves nothing more than a big hug!
Uliana (Hosted by Sharon and Noel)
With only a couple of days until our children arrive for the 2018 visit, we can remember how nervous we felt this time last year waiting to meet Uliana. We knew that she was 8, she didn't speak English and her mum had recently been ill and she was coming to stay with us for 4 weeks. We have 2 grown up boys who have left home so to be having a little girl to look after was outside our comfort zone. Well it was the best thing we have done, she is a gorgeous little girl with a lovely smile, really kind and caring and so appreciative of everything that was done for her. She settled in without any problems.The thing that stands out for us is her reaction after she first tasted  pineapple -  saying it was the nicest thing she had ever eaten
Karyna (Hosted by Rachael and Peter)
Karyna is 10 years old and this is her fourth year with the group. She is a confident, enthusiastic little lady with a winning smile who has never shown an ounce of nerves. Fearless Karyna loves to be active and has boundless energy so swimming, dancing, trampolining, cycling and roller skating feature heavily in her spare time. Shopping, pamper parties, and 'all things that sparkle' are also high on her list of favourites. Making friends comes so easily to Karyna due to her generous, affectionate, caring nature. She is full of fun....and she gives the best hugs!
Nastya (Hosted by Emma and Chris)
Nastya is 9 years old this is her 3rd visit to our home this year. Nastya fits in really well with my children and they always really look forward to her visit, she is a very sweet girl, she’s established some great friends within the FOCC group. You can often hear her singing along to music in the back of my car and it’s a real treat to hear her when she’s excited about something as she makes a sound like Chhhaaaahhhhoooo or if I suggest something she likes or when she’s riding her bike. Nastya’s name in English is Anastasia in her country it means Princess, She certainly thinks she’s a Princess with a bit of Diva. Whilst here we always arrange a bike for her to play on for the month. She is very confident and active and she loves sports activities and swimming and she likes to try new things, but she also has a real love for savoury foods such as chicken, sausages, crisp and salad. She often will play with my son’s figures or my daughter’s Princess’s when she thinks no one is watching her. But she does not like to walk and would happily be piggybacked everywhere if she could.
Dima (Hosted by Danni)
Dima is the eldest in our group turning 12 this visit- and this will be his 5th year with his hosts! He is such a happy little boy with the funniest giggle which has everyone else laughing along every time! He started out as a shy quiet boy in year one but soon took over the hearts of his hosts and his confidence has grown massively- now along with his English ‘brother from another mother’ he rules the roost and makes a lot of noise trampolining and playing football or nerf wars!
Kyrill (Hosted by Phil and Jane)

Say hello to Kyrill, our newest member to the group. He will be staying with Phil, Jane and Emmett for the following month and there is already a whole raft of fun prepared. Whenever there is a new arrival there is always a buzz of excitement combined with that little hintof nervousness. Similar to that butterfly feeling you get in your stomach. He will be an excellent addition to the group and so will Phil and Jane as the FOCC Maghull and Ormskirk family continues to grow. 

Host families & their stories

Vicka - hosted by Julie & Ged

I first met Vicka at her home in Cherikov almost 6 years ago.  I was in Belarus on the Co-ordinators visit in March 2011.  She was a very quiet, shy 7 year old little girl, wearing the new dress she had just received for her birthday.  Her Dad had recently died in tragic circumstances coming home from work one evening and the whole family were still in some state of shock.  Her Mum, Grandmother and Aunt were all at the house and Grandmother was very much in charge of things, looking after Vicka and her brother as well as their Mum.  Vicka clung to her Mum and hardly made eye contact with us, when she was asked via the interpreter if she may like to visit my house and my family for 4 weeks in the summer she very emphatically said no, she wanted to stay with her Mum.  When it was explained that we had a garden, a trampoline and she would be able to travel with a group of children who would be her friends, she changed her mind and began to think it may not be such a bad idea after all.  The family were very obviously struggling to come to terms with their loss and there was a real sense of grief in the home and they were understandably very concerned about how they were going to manage without the main wage-earner.  They felt a few weeks in England would be really good for Vicka and the benefit the whole family would receive from the charity would be a massive help. ​  

Vicka did travel with our group that June.  She arrived looking very shy and frightened but quickly settled and we were absolutely amazed just how she fitted into our family. Our three boys immediately loved her.  She hardly spoke a word to us in the four weeks but her understanding of our language was amazing. We soon established a favourite bedtime story and this was read to her every evening, she quickly picked up certain words and repeated these as we read with her.  She was so affectionate yet had such a steely character – she totally ruled the house, without speaking a word of English.  Just how she maintained total control of the TV remote over our three boys still remains a mystery but somehow she did.  We loved having her to stay and she certainly appeared to enjoy being with us.  She had a ball with the group and enjoyed all the activities they did.  When she left us at the end of June she left a big hole in our family but we were so happy she had been to stay and were looking forward to her return just 11 months later.
 I was fortunate enough to go on the Coordinators visit to Belarus the following year and visited her family and home again. This time the home had quite a different feel to it.  There was a real sense of purpose and Natasha (Vicka’s Mum) appeared more confident, was pleased to tell us that she had got a cleaning job for a couple of hours a day and was beginning to enjoy things a little more. She was so excited to show me the bunk beds which they had bought for Vicka and her brother so that they could have a bed each in their tiny room.  There were family photos in pride of place on the shelf in the bedroom – photos of our family, alongside her own.   At this visit I asked the family if there was anything in particular they needed which I could help with – they insisted they had everything they needed and they were so grateful for what we had done for Vicka, she had enjoyed her visit so much and had returned home full of stories of the things she had done.  However, they had just slaughtered their last pig and joked that they could do with another to fatten up for the next winter.   I made a couple of enquiries and arranged for $50 to be given them to purchase a pig.  They were so grateful and promised to call it Julie!
I returned from the trip full of renewed energy and sure in the knowledge that the work we are doing as a charity really does make a difference to the families we reach out to.
Just a few days after I returned home I received the sad news that Natasha had died very suddenly.  Apparently she had come home from work and just collapsed and died.  To this day we don’t really know what killed her but there was mention of a stroke – whatever it was she died instantly in the home just before her children returned from their day at school.
They never bought the pig. We suspect the money was spent on the funeral.  Whatever it was used for we can only hope it helped the family in what was such a very difficult time.

Vicka’s aunt immediately took on guardianship of her and her brother and papers were quickly sorted so that Vicka could visit England again in the June.  She arrived a different little girl than the one we had known the previous year.  She was still quiet, shy and hardly spoke a word but she was also much harder somehow and more reserved.  When she arrived at the airport I was there to meet her and she flung herself into my arms and sobbed. I guess she was relieved that at least we were still here and nobody had taken us away from her.  She did just the same when she met Ged and over the 4 weeks she was here she was his shadow. Whenever he was around she was by his side.  She no longer wanted bedtime stories and some nights she would appear downstairs upset and tearful – all we could do was hold her and sooth her following her bad dreams.  She enjoyed her visit though and joined in all the activities with the group.  She rang home weekly and spoke to her aunt. We had tears each time but she recovered quickly and managed to join in with the busy month.  We said goodbye to her with extra heavy hearts but secure in the knowledge that we had offered her some real respite from her grief and hoping we had given her some strength.
Vicka and her brother are really fortunate that they are looked after very well by their aunt and uncle (Natasha’s sister and husband). The children have now moved into their aunt’s home and the family are doing well again.  They are in the process of building an inside toilet and have running water in the house.
Vicka visited us for the following three years.  She has forged a real place in our family and it has been an absolute privilege to have her in our home.  She managed more and more English each year and although never really talked to us much, she could understand very easily.  She has never been absolutely carefree and is always a little reserved, especially around any strangers, but she is such a delightful child.  Our own children have benefitted so much from knowing her. They have learned a lot about how fortunate they are to live where they do, live such privileged lives and have so many opportunities open to them and that not every child has.
We have watched her grow over the past five years from a little girl who loved to play for ages in a big bubble bath, to a girl who enjoyed shopping, makeup and false nails!  We bought her a teddy bear which we gave her when she very first arrived and he stayed with us each year, always sitting on her bed waiting for her when she returned.  She has now taken him home with her and I’m pretty sure he’ll be on her bed at home for many years to come.
Being part of FOCC has enabled us to have this amazing experience with this little girl and to have had a least some impact on her life.  We don’t know what the future holds for her but we do know that we may just have provided some help to set her on her way to a brighter one. Our involvement with the charity is the only way we could have done this and whilst at times it involves extra effort and work, it has been so worthwhile and we as a family have benefited from the experiences at least as much as Vicka has.  
There are so many more children like Vicka who would benefit from the involvement of Friends Of Chernobyl’s Children  in their lives. If you feel you could offer a home for such a child, please get in touch. We would be happy to call and visit you to explain further.