While most teens and twenty-somethings are spending their summer holidays in popular resorts in the Med a group of Falkirk youngsters packed their bags and headed to eastern Europe.
Members of Buskit – a Larbert-based charity to help disadvantaged and disabled children in Belarus – are just back from a week in hospitals, orphanages and sanitariums.
A group of 19 headed to the stricken country to take the arts to children who are all too often forgotten about.
Buskit provide essentials such as nappies and medicine for the youngsters as well as toys, games and clothes.
While in Belarus, the group entertained the kids with dance, music and drama.
The Buskit band performed gigs and others organised arts and crafts workshops.
Charity chairman and Grangemouth High music teacher Alan Wardrop said: “It is very unusual to have a charity with so many young members. We are lucky.
“All the group are passionate about helping and, when you are working with kids, it helps to be of a similar age.”
Alan started his journey two weeks before the rest of the group, taking a 44-ton lorry to the country devastated by the Chernobyl disaster.
Thousands of children are still affected by the 1994 nuclear accident with cancer rates far higher than average.
Heather Bennie (17) went to Belarus for the first time.
She said: “It was a real eye opener. It was difficult to see but so worth while.
“The children were lovely and it was horrible to think some might not make their next birthday. Going over was the best experience and I definitely want to go back.”
The charity has suffered with the economic down-turn.
It was forced to cancel a 2010 trip due to a lack of funds but Buskit is determined that won’t happen again.
Assistant treasurer Emma McWilliams added: “We just need to fundraise even more than before and continue to come up with original ideas to generate money.
“The work we do over there is so important – we don’t want to deprive the kids another year.”
The charity is accepting donations of clothes, toys, hand-knitted goods, baby equipment, art supplies and hospital equipment.
If you can help, contact Buskit at www.buskit.co.uk or call the Falkirk Herald on (01324) 690246.