Eastern Europe · Belarus
Developing Rural Regions Affected by Chernobyl
Tatsiana Guryna (64) has dedicated herself to the development of local communities and territories in the Chernobyl affected areas of Belarus. She began her work with rural villages as a schoolteacher of chemistry and biology. Her strict dedication was recognized and she was offered a position in the Department of Education of the Slauharad District Executive Committee, in which she worked for 8 years representing the direct concerns of villagers.
Then in 1986, over 20% of Belarus was exposed to the devastating effects of radiation as a result of the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl. After the disaster, Tatsiana Guryna remained in the area, against radiologists’ advice. She was determined to assist the desperate rural women during this time of great distress. As a biologist, she was concerned about the quality of food being produced and consumed in the area. Collaborating with the International Foundation for Rural Development, Tatsiana experimented and succeeded in developing technology to cultivate radiation free vegetables in polluted areas. After making this discovery, she dedicated herself to sharing the knowledge and educating other residents in the district.
Tatsiana Guryna then became one of the founders of the Local Fund for Rural Development, later holding positions as its Head and Director. She developed project after project aimed to enhance human security and standards of life in the area, especially for women. In 2007, Tatsiana co-founded the non-profit organization, Revitalization-Agro, for which she was elected to be the first board chairwoman and later, the director.
In 2010, she established Selchanka, a non-governmental organization for women’s development. Selchanka’s main goals have been to involve women in the management of local community and business affairs, to strengthen the authority of the mother in family relations, and to contribute to the personal success of all rural women. Tatsiana has organized countless trainings and workshops to reduce the psychological pressure on women. Due to Tatsiana’s dedicated efforts, her projects were often implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme, the Embassy of the United States, and many other influential international actors.
Tatsiana Guryna continues to participate in the implementation of projects addressing the key concerns of the Belarusian villages. Currently, she holds the position of director of the Local Foundation for Rural Development “Renaissance-Agro” and continues to work with the International Foundation for Rural Development. Her efforts include empowering women in rural communities and families, facilitating youth employment, developing dairy farming, and improving rural children’s leisure activities among many others. Each year, Tatsiana organizes about 50 informational education events in villages and about 1,000 individual counseling sessions. Over 500 villagers benefit from assistance and support from Tatsiana and the organization she leads, every year.