Revisiting Annya Pesenko in Belarus

© Robert Knoth / Greenpeace

This is Annya in her room. When she was just four years old, little Annya Pesenko, trying to be a good girl, sitting up straight and eating her food nicely, would sometimes just pass out and fall flat onto the table.

She could not explain very well what was wrong with her. No wonder her mother Valentina got very worried and took her to the doctor. A brain tumour was discovered and the girl had to be operated on immediately. The cancer was removed, but two months after surgery she lost sense in her right side and had to learn everything anew. Annya never regained her health fully and has seen so many doctors that she gets terrified whenever she sees a white coat.

Annya carries certificate no. 000358. It reads: 'This person has the right to the privileges that are given by the government of the Republic of Belarus for the victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe as specified under article 18/ issued by the Gomel Municipality'.

In 2011 Annya has remarkably recovered from her bad years in 2005-2007. Even though her tumour has not disappeared, for now her condition remains stable. Two years back she was able to finish her high school with the help of a teacher at home. Most of her days she still spends in bed, unable to walk, she needs a wheelchair. Her mother health also has deteriorated in the last three years, facing arthritis. She has been hospitalized. Her husband, Vachslav, has gone into early retirement to take care of both Annya and Valentina. Most of their life takes place indoors.

  • Read more about life after Chernobyl, click here.

© Robert Knoth / Greenpeace