Host family sought for Chernobyl orphan

MP Stephen Gethins with Yaroslava, whose younger sister Kate would love to be able to follow in her footsteps

MP Stephen Gethins with Yaroslava, whose younger sister Kate would love to be able to follow in her footsteps

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Kind-hearted people in north east Fife are being invited to open their homes to a young Chernobyl orphan who’s never left Ukraine.

Kate Naida is the younger sister of Yaroslava Naida, who’s due to return home tomorrow (Saturday) after staying for just over two weeks with a host family in Cupar.

Yaroslava (14) was due to arrive before Christmas to spend the festive season with Anna Beattie and her family in Constable Acre, but her trip was delayed because of a visa wrangle and she didn’t arrive until Hogmanay.

Now North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins has launched an appeal to find a host family for 12-year-old Kate, the youngest of three sisters living with their elderly grandmother in a one-bedroom flat near the toxic wasteland known as the ‘dead zone’.

The girls’ parents had died from diseases caused by the after-effects from the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl .

Stephen, who met with Yaroslava and Anna last Friday, said: “I was really pleased to meet Yaroslava and to thank Anna for giving her the opportunity to enjoy some time in Scotland with her host family whom she has grown very close to over the years.

“I was concerned to hear that while Yaroslava and her elder sister both have host families their younger sister Kate does not.

“It would be fantastic if a family in North East Fife could offer her that opportunity. Kate has never left Ukraine and I think the experience of visiting another country would bring untold benefits.”

Anna first met Yaroslava in 2007, when she was working for a charity in County Durham that brought orphaned children to the UK. Then aged six, Yaroslava had been in an institution since she was just four.

“She was a poor, bedraggled, frightened little thing,” said Anna.

“But after medical treatment and lots of tender loving care she returned to the Ukraine three weeks later a different child.

“Since then we’ve stayed very close and my two youngest children have grown up with her.”

This was to have been Yaroslava’s first Christmas with the Beattie family but they were left bitterly disappointed when the Home Office initially turned down her visa application amid concerns that she might not return to her home country.

Five days later, they reversed the decision but by that time her plans to fly to Scotland from Kiev on December 16 had been scuppered.

Instead, she arrived on Hogmanay and Anna and her family had a second ‘Christmas Day’ with their special visitor.

Mr Gethins called the Home Office’s actions ‘outrageous’ and pledged to take up Yaroslava’s case.

However, the Home Office said that it could not tell in advance how long it will take to decide particular cases, so its advice was always not to make non-urgent travel arrangements until the passport or travel documents had been returned. A spokesperson said that Yaroslava’s application had first been received on November 30 but was turned down due lack of supporting evidence.

Anyone who would like to become Kate’s host family can contact Mr Gethins’ office at 38-40 Bonnygate, Cupar, on 01334 657765 or at stephen.gethins.mp@parliament.uk