OLGA Kostiuchenko was born only 14 days after the horrific nuclear accident at Chernobyl, in 1986.Olga Kostiuchenko and youngsters from the Ukraine outside Soar at intu Braehead where they were treated a few hours of fun.
And for several weeks after she was taken home from the maternity hospital, Olga was kept in a baby bath full of water to save her from the intense heat caused by the explosion and to wash any radiation from her skin after the fallout.
Olga is one of the lucky ones, as many of her generation have fallen victim to radiation poisoning and even today youngsters still suffer from illness or health defects caused by the Chernobyl disaster.
Olga, now 31, is a teacher in the town of Borodianka, in the Kiev province of Ukraine, about 90 miles from Chernobyl.
She has brought a group of youngsters on a visit to Scotland, so they can breath clean fresh air and eat healthy non-contaminated food.
Her hosts are the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity and the youngsters were recently guests of intu Braehead shopping and leisure destination, where they were treated to games at the Paradise Island Adventure Golf, lunch at McDonald’s and were gifted shoes by the Primark store.
This is the third year the charity has been welcomed to the shopping centre and Soar at intu Braehead to give the youngsters some relief from the radiation-contaminated atmosphere and the poverty they experience.
Olga said: “I’ve noticed that the children who come to Scotland on a visit return home keen to learn and study harder.
“The children experience wonderful emotions with the love and care they get from the families who look after them in Scotland. And I’ve no doubt many of the youngsters, when they grow up, will go on to volunteer to help the children that will still be affected by the Chernobyl disaster.”
Gail Macdonald, chairperson of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, Forth Valley Branch, who brought the youngsters to Scotland for a three-week stay, said: “It’s very generous of intu Braehead to have us as their guests year after year. The youngsters have lots of fun when they visit and they get to experience things they would never do back in Ukraine.”
Lydia Brown, intu Braehead’s community development manager said: “The smile on the faces of the youngsters while they are enjoying themselves at intu Braehead is all the thanks you need.
“The charity does a wonderful job letting the children have a once in a lifetime experience and giving their young bodies a chance to recover from the effects of radiation.”