viernes, 20 de septiembre de 2019
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Chernobyl, CUBAN HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM



“To believe in hope” by Yaima Puig Meneses, April 15, 2009, Gramma newspaper, pp 8.

Villa Amistad in Tarará is for many people a place blessed by time and dreams, a small piece of life, of hopes…. Located 20 km from downtown, on the east part of the capital, it exhibits not only the nice sight composed by its architectural structure and the sea but also the magnanimity of our solidarity feelings…

Children are the main beneficiaries of this humanitarian program. To date six bone marrow and two kidney transplants have been performed.

 Here is the site of the comprehensive medical care program since 1990, created by Cuba for the rehabilitation of Chernobyl nuclear accident victims.


A new world is born

Dania Maria and Alexander were born in Cuba; they are two beautiful and healthy children who make their relatives feel happy, mainly their father Vladimir, a young Ukrainian that loves very much our country.  Vladimir came to Cuba when he was only 16 years old, sick of leukaemia and with very little hopes to have long life. But today, he is 30 years old and continues to give thanks to this humanitarian program for his life. “What else can be more important than my feelings of happiness when I see my kids so healthy? And this is a reality thanks to this country, to its physicians, to the Cubans and their humanism that every day surprises me”.

In Villa Amistad, the children have a school with Ukrainian professors at their disposal where they attend classes every day.

“We know that the medical specialists are making very great efforts, they devote special attention to our children and we are deeply grateful for that” Liudmila, Maxim’s mother, says. Maxim is a young man who has been here for four months to receive treatment.

Like Maxim, every year 700 to 800 infants arrive in Cuba, the main beneficiaries of the humanitarian program. They found a new home in each of the 67 houses located in Villa Amistad. Some years before, there were roughly 2 000 persons but at present, only Ukraine sends its children on a regular basis..

Over 200 people work in that place. Many of them have spent so much time there that they are unable to imagine their lives without the affection of these children.

“It is an incomparable responsibility that makes us feel fully satisfied since we are able to give at least little bit of happiness to people who are so much in need of medical care and understanding”  Dr Xenia Laurenti, who worked in the program since 1990, states.

Also Esteban, Julio, Viviana, Farah Maria and others were very young when they started working at the canter; they spent  great part of their lives in Tarará but they do not regret it. And neither do nurse Cristina Sandoval and dinning hall service worker Yorsari.

The question is that this city is brimming over with altruism. There are some moving stories that break our hearts, but children feel protected here and smile whereas their parents are confident and show their gratitude. It is the third time that Svetlana visits Cuba with her daughter to continue the treatment of the girl because of some limb development problem: “In Ukraine, the society is sometimes cruel with the children suffering malformations, but everything is different here, no one criticizes them or set them apart”


A Program full of deep emotions.

“The Cuba’s attitude and the professionalism of the Cuban physicians are highly appreciated in our country. The best example of this is the high number of fully recovered patients that go back to Ukraine every year” stressed Dr Nadiezhda Guerazimenko, organizer of the humanitarian program in this European state.

Many people, who are unaware of our concepts, still wonder what Cuba pursues with this free program that will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year despite the present difficult economic situation. “It is simple, we do not give what we have in excess, we share all that we have” Dr Julio Medina, general co-ordinator of the program in the island, points out.

He assured that “the rehabilitation plan has a significant impact on the health and recovery of these children and their families”. Since 1990, over 24 000 persons affected by radioactivity have been cared of.  These patients come from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldavia, Armenia and other countries.

“Thyroid hyperplasia, gastritis, malformations, vitiligo and alopecia are the most common diseases in these patients who are very much affected by not only medical ailments but also by the psychological effects of their disease, so they require permanent special care”, Dr Xenia Laurenti, medical vice-director of the rehabilitation program, explains.

And she added “when they arrive, they are very shy and barely go out of their rooms, but afterwards, the daily contact with our workers and other sick children make their attitude change”.

These almost 20 years of the program has witnessed the distinguished and painstaking work of the health professionals and other men and women who devote themselves without restrictions to this great solidarity work.  People also speak about them overseas.

Here we find persons like Viviana Mardina Alvarez, a waitress who has worked in this center for 20 years and for many people, she is part of the family. Svetlana, the mother of young Anastasia who came to Cuba in 2002 for the first time, makes this comment “We have been three times in Cuba and since we met Viviana, we have no complaint of her care and constant interest for making us feel as at home”

“This is a program full of deep emotions in which each of us plays its role in the recovery of patients, from the physician to the dinning hall service worker” Esteban Gomez, director of  the operational department of the Revolution program Division in Villa Amistad, states

The reasons multiply at such a great scale that no one that visits this place remains impassive. The program of medical care for Chernobyl children in Cuba is a story of children who come back to life and dreams; it is one of the many edifying projects that we share with the rest of the world in which our men and women also invite people to believe in hope.

The accident

On April 26th 1986, the worst nuclear accident in the history of mankind occurred. The explosion of the reactor IV in the nuclear plant located in Chernobyl, Ukraine released great amount of radioactive particles into the environment, thus bringing about the pollution of large areas.

Twenty three years after the disaster, the sequelae are still painful and traumatic for many people, particularly for children who are born with severe illnesses and congenital diseases.

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: Senior Editor First Degree Specialist in Comprehensive General Medicine and Deputy Director for In-Hospital Care | Tarara Pediatric Hospital, Ministry of Public Health | 19, 19th Street, Tarara, Habana del Este, Havana City, 10900 Cuba | Phone: (537) 7971000 and (537) 7971536 , Office hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.


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