Nadezhda Lazko was eleven when the highly radioactive cloud moved over her hometown of Gomel in Belarus. With a population of over 500,000, Gomel is the second largest city in Belarus. The city became famous through the Chernobyl incident – sadly enough: Some parts of the city were as highly contaminated as the areas around the reactor in Chernobyl, 150 kilometers away. There are many cases of leukemia, thyroid cancer and disability in Gomel. Nadezhda has lived in Munich for eight years – with the fear of the aftermath.
Protocol: Rebecca Beerheide
Back then, my life was like that of a normal child: I played outside, got dirty and made nonsense. I don’t remember what I did on April 26, 1986. But at some point in the following days, my sister and I realized from our parents’ reactions that something very bad must have happened. They couldn’t explain to us what really happened because they knew little themselves. You didn’t trust the authorities, it was the Soviet Union. But we children felt the threat. Over the next few days we quickly learned: the radiation is always there, but you can’t see it, can’t smell it, can’t touch it. My parents were also helpless: we starved for days because my desperate mother didn’t know what to give us to eat. Because the only thing we were told was that the food was contaminated and the radiation could be fatal. How deadly – we only found out later.