It has been 37 years since the catastrophic Chornobyl disaster, a tragic event that shook the world and left an indelible mark on Ukraine and its people. The aftermath of the explosion at the nuclear power plant was devastating, leading to loss of life, displacement, and long-term health effects for those who were exposed to radiation. The memories of that fateful day remain etched in the minds of those who witnessed it, and it is important that we never forget the lessons learned from this tragedy.
I was very young but not young enough to forget how silence of Chornobyl explosion kills people. USSR at that time silenced the news and many people died because they went outside (it was a beautiful day in April). We with Mama were also walking on streets on that day, as being outside is usually seen as a good healthy practice. We do not know that Chornobyl Nuclear reactor exploded on the day of the tragedy. Nuclear power kills people, those in power needs to protect population as many do not have needed knowledge to protect themselves, especially vulnerable populations. When I came to Canada my Winnipeg doctor put me on annual cancer check to make sure I practice prevention as it is best way to stop any unknown disease. Her argument was that radiation is invisible and it is better to check your health regularly to prevent any potential harms that everyone who experience radiation exposure can develop. I try to do annual health checks as my Grandma also recommended to see doctors who are knowledgeable about best practices on how to prevent health concerns to develop. I am lucky I have a doctor, very kind person in Kamloops who allowed me and my Mama to visit him annually and at any time I need health checks. Many people in Canada do not have that privilege as Canadian health care field require multiple changes to recognize that every citizen needs access to affordable, adequate and accessible health care. The world needs more people like Dr. Nicole, Dr. Phil, Dr. Tanya and Dr. Olga and soon to complete his education Dr. Rob and many other doctors whom I still do not know but they love their work and practice using person-centered care and prevention medicine. My students are amazing as each year in social policy classes they raise health concerns so people in power are reminded about population vulnerabilities and elected representative responsibilities to make the needed changes.
The impact of the Chornobyl disaster was far-reaching, and its legacy continues to this day. Children who grew up in the area were exposed to high levels of radiation, and their health and wellbeing have been affected as a result. The work of health care professionals to stop the spread of radiation is a testament to the efforts made to mitigate the effects of the disaster, but the trauma that the Ukrainian people endured as part of Chornobyl silence from those in power cannot be understated.
It is crucial that we remember Chornobyl and the lessons that it taught us. Silence on this issue can be deadly, as it risks the loss of knowledge that can help prevent future disasters. Right now, people in power in russia silence the war and terror they create for people of Ukraine. Because of the silence and misinformation parts of global community stays indifferent to suffering of people of Ukraine. Fortunately, many stand with Ukraine, stand with people who share truth, who fight to stop war from killing more people. Silence kills, the message I remind my students and encourage them to express concerns. Speaking up can also be deadly and needs to be exercised in caution with adequate planning in place to allow the speaker not only to practice social work values but stay safe. Balance is key, always! People in russia who oppose war know that speaking up can cost them their lives, they can be tortured and put in jail and some still choose to speak because silence not only kills but also supports the oppressor. Some people of russia leave their home country and protest outside of russia to stop war. Those who stay silence allow the war to continue and kill more people in Ukraine.
It is important to acknowledge the role of people in power in russia (USSR) in Chornobyl tragedy and in others (Holodomor, war etc) that have impacted Ukraine. The country has suffered greatly at the hands of russian aggression and terror, and the resilience of its people in the face of such adversity is a testament to their strength and courage.
Slava Ukrajini and thank you to all who stand with Ukraine and speak up, as silence kills! Remember the victims and survivors of Chornobyl tragedy today and always. Remembering Chornobyl is essential to ensuring that the lessons of the past are not forgotten, and that we continue to work towards a safer and more sustainable future for all.
PS: On photo I took in December 2017 during my first visit to Japan you can see The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945