Gomel  Oblast
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                       06 Dec 2007

  The Gomel Oblast is in the southeastern part of Belarus and borders Russia to the East and Ukraine to the South.

 In this district, the flat terrain and deep soil allows for growing a variety of crops. These include corn that is chopped and used for cattle forage, vegetables including squash and pumpkins as well as potatoes … the staple food for Belarus.  Still, wheat is the major commercial crop of the area. Some fields are planted in winter wheat, which will be harvested in the spring while others will be planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.  When harvested, the grain is usually damp and must be dried with large gas-fired heaters before it can be safely stored.

.  Farming continues to be an important part of the economy of southern Belarus even though, in 1986, a large portion of the land was contaminated with radioactive fall out caused by the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.  This reactor was located a few miles south of the border in Ukraine but the prevailing winds caused 70% of the contamination to fall on Belarus.  The effects linger in the rural areas; however, the city of Gomel … with a population of 500,000 …  received only a small amount fallout. 

 On the eastern edge of this city, the Sozh River continues its southward journey through the Oblast to join the Dnieper River as it flows to the Republic of Ukraine. Along it’s peaceful banks young people easily find a good place to sit and dream of the future.  Fishing in a cove along the river will often provide food for the evening meal.

 Along this meandering river a large city park, … known simply as Gomel Park, … is a place where people come to spend the day visiting and watching other people.  It is also a place to make new friends or renew old acquaintances.   Today, however, is Saturday, … a special day, … it is when weddings are performed.  The tradition is that the bride and groom visit an important memorial site for a photography session. Dressed in their finest, the wedding party usually spends less than an hour getting the photographs before returning to the formal wedding reception.

 Within this park … and high above the river’s edge … is a tower made from a smelting furnace smokestack. From the top of the 150-foot structure, ferryboats can be seen going up and down the river. The vantage point of this tower gives a quick view of the large city of Gomel.  The soccer stadium is easily identified by its array of lights. In the foreground, the Performing Arts Center is the focus.  Like other urban areas of Belarus, apartment and office buildings make up a large portion of the city.  Church spires, smokestacks and broadcast antennas reach upward as they pierce the skyline.

 Gomel is a wonderful place to visit and get to know the friendly people of the area.  This is true not only here but also in every region of Belarus.   For us, it is time to go. We must head down the highway about 200 miles to the next stop at Pinsk in the Brest Oblast.





Dnieper                       NEE-per




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