Mission Without Borders
"Reaching people for Christ: helping thousands of children, families and communities out of poverty into a sustainable future"

Supporting Nataliya in the Chernobyl contaminated zone

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2017-09-21

Approaching the Boyko family home in Western Ukraine at first you are surrounded by a peaceful woody landscape and the smell of pure pine trees. You would not think to look at it, but this landscape exists in the contaminated zone of the world's worst nuclear disaster, which took place 31 years ago at Chernobyl.

As you continue into this region, the feeling of being close to and immersed in nature is broken by the sudden appearance of high voltage lines stretching for miles and miles. Then in the distance you catch a glimpse of the Kuznetsovsk nuclear power plant, which is one of three in the region including the abandoned plant at Chernobyl.  Turning off the main road, there is no asphalt surfaces only juddering flint. Infrastructure is non-existent as are any employment opportunities here.

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The Boyko's are one of 300 struggling families Mission Without Borders (MWB) supports in the contaminated zone. To help them overcome their struggles in the recent past, through your support our Ukrainian coordinators have supplied the family with furniture, such as wardrobes, beds, food and hygiene supplies plus clothing and footwear. Yet there is one deadly issue in the zone for which there is seemingly no cure or solution - cancer from radiation which still exists in the air, water and soil.

Last year the father of the family, who was the leader of the local church, died from kidney cancer, leaving behind his wife and 13 children. Stepping into the family home you find Nataliya, the mother, surrounded by her children. Some are leaning on her, the older ones stand further back in the shadows and the youngest, Pavlo, has brought his favorite pillow. The father's chair is empty and only his portrait remains as a poor replacement for him.

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"My husband was a farmer and worked seasonally as a stoker," Nataliya says. "He managed to buy an old tractor, planter and combine and we were able to work the land and provide food for our children.  He was strongly dedicated to serving God, and when we found out about his disease it caused an anguish for me that is too difficult to carry, but we know God will provide for us.  Our marriage lasted for nineteen years, and my closest friend and partner has gone. It was so difficult to see him fading away."

"State support for families living in this region was cancelled last year," Oleksandr, MWB's local coordinator says. "Young people leave in search of hope elsewhere, everyone just wants to escape. The nuclear plants have brought nothing but disaster. Yet families like Nataliya's continue to exist here. We are here to support them."

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In a village, region and country where there appears to be so little hope, this family are rooted in the hope of Jesus Christ. Despite the tragedy that surrounds them within and outside the home, they do not despair.

Our team will continue to support Nataliya and her children in the year ahead materially, emotionally, spiritually and through education, but we need your help.  By sponsoring a family, or by donating whatever you can spare, you can help us reach those families in greatest need in some of the toughest communities in Eastern Europe.