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26 April 2011

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the tragedy that occurred at the Chernobyl plant in the Ukraine. I was there for the 20th anniversary, a few weeks before the rest of the media descended and it still remains as the one trip that still stays with me.

If there’s one memory that will never go, it would be the silence. It really was like nature had reclaimed the region. No humans, no pollution or modern life, just decaying buildings and old possessions scattered around. During the three days I spent in the area, I became friends with Rimma Kiselitsa, the woman who helped me understand what happened and was one of the heroes of Chernobyl as much as the firefighters and first responders were.

Sitting outside eating food she had prepared at home, you weren’t advised to eat/drink anything from the area for obvious reasons, I learned more from her in those three days than I had done weeks before preparing. She got me access to areas, was understanding when I muttered “i really need to get in there” and always had a smile.

So whilst many will be remembering the disaster today, and rightly so, I’ll be raising a small glass of Ukrainian vodka to Rimma and be saying “ура і до побачення мій друг”

Posted in: EuropeEastern EuropeChernobyl