Sacha: A Child Of Chernobyl

I need to stop greeting at these films. Sacha: A Child Of Chernobyl is a short documentary following up with the children who were taken to Cuba for medical treatment after exposure to radiation following the Chernobyl disaster.

When Chernobyl exploded, becoming history’s greatest radiation disaster, the resultant fallout produced illnesses and cancers of all kinds in the people in the surrounding area. Ukraine’s health system was overwhelmed, and the Soviet authorities turned to one of the few places they could trust for help.

Cuba, with a world-renowned health system, took in thousands of children for treatment. Kids with rare cancers, skin conditions and maladies. All received free chemotherapy, surgery, and psychological help. There was a huge complex at Tarara, where in addition to the hospital, there was housing for the mothers and fathers accompanying their kids. It also had a beach, and green spaces, places for the kids to play and give them back a piece of their childhood. Workers there helped with household chores, so parents could focus solely on supporting their child, and therapists helped organise one-to-one and group sessions to keep the children’s morale up.

It moves you to tears to hear the gratitude of the mothers. Their kids lives were saved, their health restored, all for free, from strangers on the other side of the world. One woman tells how her son went deaf, and in Cuba he received hearing aids and treatments which restored some of his hearing. He was able to participate in society, grow up and get an education, work and provide for his family, and give his mother grandkids. None of that, she says, would have been possible without the kindness of the people of Cuba. And Sacha, the boy of the title, received chemotherapy for his pituitary tumour, and was given every encouragement to recovery, eventually growing up and becoming a dentist, and giving back to Cuba’s healthcare system.

It’s unreal, what can be done when we focus our efforts into kindness and solidarity instead of division and greed. A really moving chapter of Cuba’s history.