Babooshka, come!

This year my mum celebrated her 80th birthday by throwing herself even deeper into fund raising activities for The Chernobyl Children’s Life Line, a charity founded in 1991 to support the children horribly affected by the nuclear power disaster. She is absolutely amazing, tireless and may I say, fondly of course, sneaky? I mention this because a few weeks ago I found myself suspended in mid air hanging only by a thin rope; then whizzing around in a small car while being tossed a hundred feet above the ground, all the while screaming my lungs out as I hurtled toward the ocean, all of which was fondly caught on photograph by said mum. 

Why the ordeal? Because mum persuaded me to be a ‘buddy’ for the day to a group of children who come to the UK once a year from Belarus for a four week recuperative break, away from contaminated food, water and air. This respite helps boost their immune systems and makes a real difference to their health and lives adding up to two years to their anticipated life span. In light of that, how could I refuse?

But a few hours later, I sort of lived to regret my decision. For I was to be a ‘buddy’ during their day at the fairground. It started off well enough: candy floss, win a duck, toffee apples, slot machines … but then the children spied the rides and that was the end of my stomach as I knew it. From then on it was big dippers, some sort of helicopter ride that not only spun around generally but the individual cars spun too – in the opposite direction 😦  To cries of “Babooshka, come!” I was dragged to the next instrument of torture. The big dipper, located on the very edge of the sea, a hell ride during which I feared more than once an intimate acquaintance with Neptune was imminent. Then on to an obstacle course that involved my height-fearing self bouncing on an inch wide rope to get safely from one landing stage to the next – if you look closely at the photo, on the left (above the pier pressure signs)you might just see me clinging with relish to a landing station pole while my little charges continued to scramble around like fearless monkies born to the task. I grabbed only a brief respite before more cries of “Babooshka, come!” spurred me on to the next round of insanity. Thankfully, a friend’s small son took pity on me and we finished off the day with a nice, stomach settling ride on a merry-go-round.

It was the best fun, though, and the spirit and courage of those children humbled me. In her The Big Green Machine post, Lavada mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt’s edict to “everyday do something that scares you”. Those rides scared the pants off me, but I felt good that I didn’t bottle out. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Next year I want to make it to the second level of that obstacle course. 

Loads more photos of the children enjoying their trip are on the charity’s Facebook page.

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17 responses to “Babooshka, come!

  1. Ahh, those pictures are great, Tricia. Looks like the kids had Christmas in July. You would not, however, get ME up on that obstacle course. Kudos to you for doing it. And to everyone involved for giving those kids such a fun time.

    • They really did have Christmas in July, Laurie. The hosts arrange a Christmas party complete with Santa, decorations and, of course, presents. Alas, I couldn’t be around for that.

  2. What a wonderful adventure. The pictures are treasures as are the memories for the children and the people like yourself and your mother who make it possible.

    I will say you took scary to quite a height I’m impressed. You’ll be on zip lines in no time flat.

    Thanks for an inspiring post it’s a great way to start the day.

    • Thanks, Lavada. There are always lots of tears when the children go home, both from the hosts and the children, but they certainly enjoy their holiday while they are here. I have nothing but admiration for the people who arrange it all and work so hard to make it happen each year, my mum included.

      And yes, I’ve got my sights set on that zip line 🙂

  3. Looks like a lot of fun and for such a good cause!

  4. Oh you are brave and what a lovely thing to do for those children. You must be really proud of your mum. I hate fairground rides, especially those that leave the ground. Years ago when my daughter was about 6 we went for family day out to a stream traction fair. She wanted to go on the big wheel, I could hardly refuse but had to have several stiff drinks before I climbed aboard and spent most of the time gripping on for dear life with my eyes shut. She loved it and wanted to go on again. I chickened out. Once in a lifetime was enough!

  5. Amazing what we do for the people we love, isn’t it, Kit? In retrospect, I think my eyes were shut tight for most of those rides 🙂

  6. Valerie J. Patterson

    I had a difficult time reading this through the tears! What a selfless and marvelous thing this organization does for these children! Kudos to your mum for being such a big part of it. Kudos to you, for being a kid yourself and doing it all with them. They will never forget the woman who helped them build such fantastic memories … and memories are so very important! You and your mum are amazing!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Valerie. Must admit, I don’t think I would have chosen to do it if my mum hadn’t been extremely adept in the art of persuasion. She can be really sneaky 🙂

      • Valerie J. Patterson

        She got you out of your comfort zone because she knew the experience would be a good one. Funny how moms always seem to know these things, eh? 😛

  7. Valerie J. Patterson

    I hope you don’t mind, Tricia, but I shared a link to your story on my facebook page. I just had to! I had no idea children needed a health break from their homeland. Also, here’s a great article about one of the women who takes in 2 boys every June: http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/community/the-radiation-effects-at-chernobyl-will-last-1-000-years-1-4081860

    • That is really kind of you, Valerie, and I certainly don’t mind at all! I didn’t realise the awful long term effects of the disaster until my mum became involved with the charity. The article you mention is about the leader of the Portsmouth group my mum works with – like my mum, she’s a very inspirational lady!

      • Valerie J. Patterson

        A couple friends popped over and read, Tricia. Helps to raise awareness. I’m afraid we all become so busy that we sometimes forget to take a look out the window and see what is happening elsewhere in the world. It’s also easy to forget something this ghastly once the news dies down, especially if it’s not happening in our own backyards. And the world (and these children) needs more ladies like your mum and her friends!

  8. What an awesome thing to do. I admire your mom and you- such a wonderful thing to support. You were such a trooper on those rides. I love roller coasters and all those kinds of things – It sounds like a great time was had by all!

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