|Some of the fireworkers who lost their lives during the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster
There were only 28 fireworkers in the town of Chernobyl and all of them were in charge of the nuclear power station (the most powerful one in the former USSR). In one day, people from all over the world knew about these men because of the tragedy that occurred on the nights of April 25 to 26, 1986. Unfortunately, very few people, even in the former USSR republics, know about these men now...people's memory is very short sometimes.
Our teacher told us about this tragic event during human rights classes and about the people who fought one by one against nuclear power and disaster. In Belarus we call these people "Team N1" because they were the first on the line in the fight for the safety of others. Their wives, parents and children were living in the same town and they remember them and how, as documents show, they did not panic despite knowing that they would die and this would be the last working day of their lives.
40,000 people from the small Ukranian town were sleeping the night of April 25, unaware that somebody was fighting for their lives. My teacher said that it was a mentality of the former Soviet people to think about others and to be willing to die for the happiness and safety of others.
I think that every nation has their own heroes who are an example to follow. I want to remind others of my heroes and what I have found out in our books about what happened during that time:
Lieutenant Vladimir Pravik -- He was born on June 13th, 1962 in the town of Chernobyl. At the age of 24, this town became one big grave for him and his partners. We do not have too many documents and materials about these people, maybe because they were too young to be famous and only their death made them well-known today.
Mr. Nick Gitenok, Vladimir Timuk, Victor Kibenok, Vasyl Ignatenko, Nick Vashuk -- They were working as one team with Vladimir Pravik and died several hours after working inside the nuclear station because of the high rate of radioactivity. They did everything possible to stop the reactor and save others from immediate death.
Chernobyl blowings were the equivalent of 1000 Hiroshimas and Nagasakis together. It is hard for people to understand how it was even possible for anyone to survive because people from Japan are suffering still now.
Chernobyl is a geopolitical disaster and catastrophe not only for the Ukraine, but also for Russia, and especially for us in Belarus. 40 percent of our land is affected by radioactivity. Children are suffering most of all because of cancer. So, it is a pity that my country has to fight this disaster alone, but I do believe that we will survive because, historically, we have survived many tragic events, especially during WW2 when every third Belarussian died because of naziism.
So, my conclusion is that we have to remember our heroes who died during a peaceful time trying to defend others. Without such a memory, we do not have a future as a nation.
- Switzerland and the United Nations provide an impartial international communications platform on the long-term consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
Chernobyl Children's Project International
- is a humanitarian effort that seeks long-term community-based solutions, provides assistance, and advocates for the rights of victims and survivors of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster.
- Read a story on MY HERO about the founder of the Chernobyl Children's Project International.
- Find out more about Belarus.
Click on the image below to view a short interview with Valentina Suvorina, an iEARN teacher, who was interviewed by MY HERO at the iEARN conference in Slovakia, July 2004.
Valentina speaks about the unsung heroes of Chernobyl.