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

Suddenly the house became empty

Sb

2018-02-13

"The last year was very difficult. Suddenly the house became empty without mum."

The Voloschuk family live in a village in the contamination zone of Chernobyl, where cases of cancer are multiplying even now because of the catastrophic nuclear accident over 30 years ago. And for one family, it meant losing a precious wife and mother. As you drive towards the village where the Voloschuks live, there is a new village cemetery that so far has one grave in it. It belongs to Lyudmyla Voloschuk, mother of six, who died in March 2017. The six Voloschuk children live with their father in a small house with two tiny bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. On the wall an old-fashioned picture says, "Rejoice in the Lord always".

Almost all the houses in the village stand on one main street on a bumpy stone road. "Although the accident took place over 30 years ago, the number of people here with cancer is increasing with frightening speed," said Anatoliy, the coordinator of Mission Without Borders' (MWB) family sponsorship programme. "Even in just half of this village, there are 40 people suffering from this dreadful disease."

 F4

He added, "Most people in the village are farmers. The soil here is not rich: there is clay very close to the surface. Often plant pests spoil what has grown. A good harvest here is grown only with sweat and tears. Sometimes circumstances lead to despair, but I teach people never to give up and always to have a cheerful spirit."

MWB has been there to support the Voloschuk family as Lyudmyla battled cancer for two years before she died, helping them out with medicine, a new oven, furniture, clothing and food. Yuriy, the father, said, "We were spending everything on surgeries and chemotherapy. I am so thankful that MWB was taking care of my children then, supporting us in practically everything. Unfortunately, Lyudmyla passed away and the kids became half orphans.

S3

"In these difficult circumstances, as a family we found better love and friendship. We all became much closer. Although my friends always say that I do not have leisure time anymore, I feel no regret about it. I like spending time with my family!" He added, "I came from a big family with ten children and I was driving a tractor at 12, the age my oldest son is now!"

Although he seems strict, his children, three boys and three girls, show no signs of being oppressed. He introduces each one with humorous tenderness in his voice. "Nazar likes to sleep all morning, Alyona is too shy to read in front of class, Andriy sometimes forgets what he was asked to do…."

S2

His children smile as though they were hearing compliments. They know that he is correcting them with love, and that their father is proud of them. Maria, 13, and Andriy, 12, the oldest children, are responsible for looking after their younger siblings. However, every child in this family seems to take good care of one another.

Andriy said, "When our youngest brother was brought home from maternity hospital, the second youngest left his cot and his bottle for milk, giving them to the newborn baby." Andriy is fond of football and carefully takes care of his ball, the birthday gift he received from his parents last winter. Mariya said, "Housework is my responsibility. And Andriy is responsible for the yard, the animals, the firewood. Both of us try to take good care of our younger siblings. They often need help with lessons, or some advice, or they want someone to play with, or to fix their hair.

S1

"Father knows that even when he is away, home is all right. He is at work all the time; still he finds time to spend with us. He is always accessible." Everybody here carefully keeps their memories of that most loved person who passed away. Looking at the children, and the features they inherited, you can imagine her: caring, neat, light-hearted, with so much love to give. Anatoliy, the MWB coordinator, has become friends with Yuriy, and the men have mutual respect for one another. Anatoliy said, "Yuriy is an example for me. Despite all his sorrow, Yuriy looks to the future with optimism and does everything possible to make things happy for his children. He understands that in future the children will need a woman in the house. He himself cannot care, teach and support the girls in everything. He is praying to meet the right woman someday, the woman who will become wife and mother in this house."

With the help of our supporters, MWB is there for families struggling with poverty in Eastern Europe - and supports them through their darkest moments. MWB supports about 300 families living in areas contaminated by Chernobyl. We work with families like Yuriy's who struggle to pay for medical treatment for family members, and we offer emergency assistance, emotional guidance and long term involvement to help them become self-sufficient. 

  • Chernobyl was a nuclear power plant located in the city of Pripyat, Ukraine
  • On Saturday 26th April 1986, one of its reactors exploded, causing the world's worst nuclear accident.
  • The Chernobyl explosion put 400 times more radioactive material into the Earth's atmosphere than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (IAEA report, 1996)
  • It affected more than 3.5 million people, including 1.5 million children (UN)
  • 6,000 thyroid cancer cases to date, 16,000 more expected (TORCH 2016)
  • 5 million people still live in highly contaminated areas (TORCH 2016)

Mission Without Borders is supporting approximately 300 families living in contaminated areas.