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"Reaching people for Christ: Helping people out of poverty into a sustainable future."

A special report from inside Ukraine's contaminated zone

Ukraine Contaminated Zone News Story September 2017

31 years on since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, we continue to support 300 struggling families living inside the outer contaminated zone. Radiation still fills the air and soil. This is one family's story.


Imagine what it's like to live inside the contaminated zone.

Approaching the Boyko family home in Western Ukraine, the wooded landscape conceals the aftermath of the world's worst nuclear disaster, which took place 31 years ago at Chernobyl.

The Bokyo family live in the outer contaminated zone, in an isolated village near the Kuznetsovsk nuclear power plant, which is one of three in the region including the abandoned plant at Chernobyl. Here, infrastructure is non-existent as are any employment opportunities.

The Boykos are one of 300 struggling families Mission Without Borders supports in the contaminated zone. To help meet their needs, our local coordinators have supplied the family with furniture including wardrobes and beds, food, hygiene supplies, clothing and footwear. But there remains an issue that affects many families in the zone - sickness from the radiation which still exists in the air, water and soil.

Last year the father of the Bokyo family, who was the leader of the local church, died from kidney cancer, leaving behind his wife and children. Stepping inside the family home you find Nataliya, the mother, surrounded by her children. Their father's chair is empty.

"My husband was a farmer and worked seasonally as a stoker," Nataliya says. "He managed to buy an old tractor, planter and combine and we were able to work the land and provide food for our children.  He was strongly dedicated to serving God, and when we found out about his disease it caused an anguish for me that is too difficult to carry, but we know God will provide for us.  Our marriage lasted for nineteen years, and my closest friend and partner has gone. It was so difficult to see him fading away."

Trapped in poverty

"State support for families living in this region was cancelled last year," says Oleksandr, MWB's local coordinator. "Young people leave in search of hope elsewhere; everyone just wants to escape. The nuclear plants have brought nothing but disaster. Yet families like Nataliya's continue to exist here. We are here to support them."

In a region where there appears to be so little hope, this family are rooted in the hope of Jesus Christ. Despite the tragedy that surrounds them within and outside the home, they do not despair. But this harvest will be difficult for Nataliya; remembering her husband working the land, she is processing her grief while trying to grow enough food for her family to survive.

We will continue to support Nataliya and her children materially, emotionally, spiritually and through education, but we need your help.  

You can help us reach those families in greatest need in some of the toughest communities in Eastern Europe by becoming a family sponsor.