Photo by @macieknabrdalik / @viiphoto Farmers in Straholesie.
I met Maciek last September in Perpignan for the first time, and this kind and simple authenticity was felt in his ways. Looking at this photograph and reading the words about his childhood, how he was affected by the Chernobyl events, the same genuine voice is heard and seen, that is Maciek's expression.
"I was six years old when the accident happened, but I remember months of fear and anxiety. The name was repeated several times every day -- Chernobyl, Chernobyl, Chernobyl. We didn’t talk about radiation. The television told us not to go outside. We stopped drinking liquid milk overnight, replaced in the cupboard with the powdered variety. I remember where it stood.
My mother didn’t trust the communist media when they finally said we were safe. I was not allowed to eat dairy products at kindergarten for over a year.
In kindergarten, every time food was served, I would remind the ladies working in the kitchen that I couldn’t drink milk because of Chernobyl. Initially, the women accepted this with calm, but after a while, people stopped thinking about the contaminated meadows, where cows would graze. The ladies in the kitchen became annoyed and told me to wear a sign around my neck. For months they kept it up, until one day they informed me the news had deemed milk safe and poured me a full glass, which I drank. At the end of the day, my mother picked me up and I shared this joyful piece of news with her
The direct environmental results of the Chernobyl accident threatened fundamental human rights in the region -- the right to life, a safe environment, health, clean water, and food. Those who continue to live in the zone are still threatened. They’re close to radiation. They know it’s somehow harmful. And they’re helpless. They’re in a constant state of longing for what they have lost, irrevocably -- their home."
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