Orphans get the joy of Christmas

A FELIXSTOWE photographer has seen first-hand the joy a simple Christmas present can bring in some of the most deprived areas of Europe.Former Evening Star employee James Fletcher has returned from a week-long trip to Belarus, covering Operation Christmas Child.

A FELIXSTOWE photographer has seen first-hand the joy a simple Christmas present can bring in some of the most deprived areas of Europe.

Former Evening Star employee James Fletcher has returned from a week-long trip to Belarus, covering Operation Christmas Child.

The charity oversaw the delivery of more than a million shoeboxes filled with gifts from Western Europe and the USA to the former Soviet Bloc nations.

While in Belarus, Mr Fletcher photographed orphaned children receiving the gifts and went into an area still affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The Belarusian border lies close to the site of the 1986 nuclear power plant accident and received much of the resulting contamination that fell on the former Soviet Union.

The country still bears the scars of fallout, from polluted agricultural land to a dramatic increase in childhood thyroid cancer.

Most Read

“It was amazing to meet the families and realise that while the disaster was more than 20 years ago, children are still suffering the effects, despite some of them only being born recently.

“Thyroid cancer is rife, and the land in the east and south of the country, which was once a rich farming area, is of no use to the people. It's a very sad situation to see.”

Also this year, thousands of toys sent to the parents of missing toddler Madeleine McCann were given to Samaritan's Purse, the charity that runs the Operation Christmas Child appeal, to donate to children in Eastern Europe.

Boxes contained anything from boiled sweets to colouring books and Mr Fletcher was there to see the gifts being handed out to children who would otherwise get nothing.

“For some of the children it was the first Christmas present they had ever received. People are very imaginative when making up the boxes but something as simple as a tennis ball provided hours of amusement for one boy in particular.”

Mr Fletcher was also able to personally give a shoebox from a Felixstowe schoolboy to 8-year-old Cristina in an orphanage near Mogilev, close to the Russian border.

Are you doing something special for charity? What do you think of this story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter