Today marks the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. My husband, born in Ukraine, was 14 years old at the time. Though he has shared stories with me over the years, I admit that I never fully understood the scope of this disaster. With the recent talk of potential nuclear destruction in Japan, I felt compelled to learn more as the anniversary approached. Over the weekend, I watched video's and researched stories through tears and mouth agape. I asked questions and Alex shared with me a memory of getting caught in a drizzle and returning home with bleach stains on his shirt from the radiation rain. Many were unaware of the danger...it's hard to imagine a time before internet and social media were alerting the world in real time but only a quarter century ago, these citizens were informed only of what their government wanted them to know. Brave souls perished in attempts to contain the disaster and families have suffered for now decades from the aftereffects.
In my research, I found a few things that I'd like to share with you. The first is a photography project 'The Long Shadow of Chernobyl', by Gerd Ludwig, who recently returned to Chernobyl for extended coverage of the site and the abandoned town of Pripyat. Below is the Kickstarter campaign film, and this video, is the most recent coverage released by BBC News last week.
The second is an overview video. (Please access through link.) It is graphic and heartbreaking but I urge you to watch what you can to fully grasp the affects. My weak stomach could barely handle it but I felt too guilty to turn away.
Finally, I couldn't watch and read without feeling compelled to do something. Maybe my husband's heritage and the thought of our future children was playing on my emotions, but I began to seek out charities directly involved with caring for, supporting and serving the children affected by this still dangerous disaster. The work they do provides treatment, recuperation and volunteer funding. Please consider a donation.
Chernobyl Children International Children of Chernobyl Foundation
It has been my privilege to experience just a touch of Ukrainian culture in my life. From friends to festivals, I've learned of a country rich with tradition and have been inspired by everything from music to food to fashion. Each year, we attend a Ukrainian Festival here in Chicago and I've fallen in love with the traditional dance troupe Hromovytsia. Shortly after, I became obsessed with red boots and soon, our friends sent me a traditional blouse which is one of the most meaningful pieces in my closet. Here are a few of my favorite images:
Ukrainian Fest 2008
Ukrainian Fest 2009
I usually like to keep things light around here but the anniversary of a tragedy that is still affecting Ukraine and surrounding areas seemed appropriate to acknowledge. Thank you for reading.