A young man from a radiation damaged town in the path of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion is competing in a world triathlon contest in Hyde Park tomorrow (Thursday).
Sasha Dakhno is now 18 but from the age of seven he benefited from annual visits to Mid Sussex courtesy of the national charity, the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children.
Year after year Sasha stayed with the Mid Sussex branch of FOCC with a host family in Horsted Keynes, where the branch is based.
He was one of the first children to be brought to the area in 2001 and now, tomorrow, he will be competing in London, in the junior section of the triathlon world championships.
Mid Sussex FOCC said Sasha has come a very long way since arriving in Sussex at the age of seven, a shy and troubled boy from a difficult background in Mogilev, Belarus.
Yet now, after training in his home country and fantastic support, in recent years from his new adoptive family back at home, as well as ongoing annual support from his British host family and Mid Sussex FOCC, he is achieving great things.
Local coordinator Sheila Nash said: “We are all wishing Sasha the very best of luck for Thursday morning in
Hyde Park and are very proud of his achievements so far.
“We are hoping that we may be seeing him at the next Olympics games, competing at adult level!
“We feel sure that the combined help and support that Sasha has received both here in Sussex and back in Belarus, has made a huge difference to his future life.”
The charity appeals every year for support and help for the month-long stay it organises in Mid Sussex for more than a dozen children from Belarus.
All, like Sasha are affected by poor backgrounds as well as an environment still polluted by the radiation that spread from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station explosion that happened before they were born.
Many come from families which still live, often three generations together, in cramped, rundown flats or wooden houses, many without running water or indoor sanitation.
The charity says many of the parents have to work long hours for extremely low wages and yet living costs are very similar to our own.
FOCC Mid-Sussex brings a group of 12 to 15 children, between the ages of seven and 12 years, for a month-long visit each summer, for four or five consecutive years.
The children are placed with local host families who provide them with a safe and loving environment, wholesome
meals and a comfy bed. During the week they attend a full daily activity programme, which includes trips to
the seaside, horse-riding, picnics, swimming and an outdoor camp.
They return home with bags packed full of useful clothing, toiletries and vitamins to share with their families. Since 2001 the Mid-Sussex group has helped over 50 children.
To help make a real difference to the life of a needy Belarus child, phone Sheila for
more information on 01444 892149 or email at Sheila Nash