What We Do
Bridges to Belarus is a small, UK based charity that helps children and families in Belarus who are affected by the Chernobyl disaster. The people of the region have health issues related to the disaster but are also affected by extreme poverty. All our members are volunteers, which allows us to spend all money raised in supporting our families.
We currently support over 800 children, their families and the local community including schools, old people's homes and a day centre for young adults with learning difficulties.
Bridges to Belarus began with an interest from Rachel Furley when she began working with people from the regions of Belarus affected by the Chernobyl disaster when she was at secondary school. She helped fundraising for a local charity which brought children to the UK for a four week visit; this visit gave them relief from the radiation that they are exposed to in Belarus.
Rachel continued her interest by studying at night school to learn Russian, and was therefore asked to help in translating for the charity whilst the children were visiting. She learnt from some of the adults which accompanied with the children that many would suffer from depression on returning to their normal lives in Belarus. After spending time where they could have a hot bath, play games and eat good food they would go home to a place with no running water, and where they have to work hard for intermittent meals.
It must seem like a cruel contrast what children have over here to their own situation.Rachel decided to focus her attention and efforts on helping in Belarus. By helping people in their own country it would improve their lives for a sustained period of time, and also help boost their economy by spending the money raised in their country.
The Next Step
When Rachel returned from a visit to Belarus in September 2004, she decided that there was a need that could be addressed. The applications were filed to form a charity, which was officially registered in January 2005.
Rachel remains as the chair of Bridges to Belarus but has managed to get a group of people together who are also enthusiastic to help the cause. Please visit our Key People page for further information on the key volunteers of the charity.