Studies have shown that this population has a higher level of anxiety and are more likely to report that they have physical symptoms that they cannot explain, according to the Chernobyl Forum report. They're also more likely to say they are in poor health.
The report noted that as the media began to speak of "Chernobyl victims" and governments offered disaster-related benefits, "rather than perceiving themselves as 'survivors,' many of those people have come to think of themselves as helpless, weak and lacking control over their future."
Gorelik was not evacuated after Chernobyl. She grew up in the region of Gomel, the same area where she and Daniel live today. About a 20-minute drive away is the "Dead Zone," where entire villages have been abandoned since 1986.
Getting medical care
Gorelik and Daniel stayed with Henning's family in the Seattle area during part of the summer. They returned to Belarus at the beginning of August, Henning said. During their time in the Pacific Northwest, they saw the ocean, mountains and a rainforest, in addition to various doctors. Daniel put on 4.5 pounds during the six-week stay.
"Yulia and Daniel saw various doctors and it was determined that many of their health issues could be attributed to the poor nutrition that is so common in this area of Belarus," Henning said in an e-mail.
Among the nine children and two adults, including Gorelik, who spent this summer in the United States through Hope for Chernobyl's Child, a total of 47 cavities were filled, four wisdom teeth were pulled and 60 blood tests were taken, Henning said. The Belarusians gained a combined total of 26.5 pounds.
Gorelik told CNN in July that Hope for Chernobyl's Child has given her not only material help, but also mental support. The gratitude she feels toward the organization and her hosts is immeasurable, she says.
Reflecting on her situation, her words about lack of control are reminiscent of the Chernobyl Forum Report: "If you are living in bad conditions, sometimes, you feel like you are alone. You don't have control of your life. You don't have any support. You don't have any hope, maybe. There is only one hope, to God. But if you meet some people who can give you their hands, and their help, it is making you stronger, it is making you happy, really happy. That's why I'm grateful with all my soul."
Gorelik and Daniel left for their long journey back to Belarus on August 5, including a 13-hour layover in Frankfurt. Henning and colleagues arranged for them, and the others in the Hope for Chernobyl's Child group, to rest in a lounge at the airport.
Such cross-cultural friendship has become part of the fallout of Chernobyl.