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Only a child born and raised within the Chernobyl exclusion zone is now a healthy student, 19 years old

The only child known to have been born and raised in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, now a happy, healthy student approaching her 20th birthday.

Mariyka Sovenko, now 19, was born in 1999 to mother Lydia and her husband Mikhail deep in the Chernobyl exclusion zone – a decade after the disaster.

Her birth was initially covered by the Ukrainian authorities, embarrassed that some people were still living in the deeply irradiated zone, but details have resurfaced as interest in the disaster peaked thanks to the Sky Atlantic series.

Mariyka Sovenko

Mariyka Sovenko

Mariyka Sovenko

Mariyka Sovenko, now 19, is the only child known to have been born and raised in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Mother Lydia (right) had refused to leave the zone after the disaster because the Soviet Union offered her no alternative accommodation

Mother Lydia (right) had refused to leave the zone after the disaster because the Soviet Union offered her no alternative accommodation

Mother Lydia (right) had refused to leave the zone after the disaster because the Soviet Union offered her no alternative accommodation

Mariyka

Mariyka

Mariyka

Mariyka

Mariyka grew up drinking milk from irradiated cows and fish from polluted rivers, causing many to accuse her parents of killing her & # 39 ;.

Although Mariyka does not appear in the series, her life marks for many in Ukraine one of the defining chapters of the constant saga.

Lydia and husband Mikhail, a fireman who had been called to reactor 4 on the night of the explosion in 1986, had refused to leave the exclusion zone because they were not offered evacuation accommodation by the Soviet Union.

Lydia had not realized she was pregnant until she gave birth to Mikhail & # 39; s help – who cut his daughter's umbilical cord before giving her a wash.

As the news about the birth of Mariyka spread, Lydia remembered that he & # 39; was a criminal & # 39; was treated for the birth in Chernobyl and he refused to depart from one of the only family houses in the region.

But she continued to educate Mariyka there, ignoring government health warnings that she was putting her daughter in danger while the young Marikya drank milk from a cow grazing on irradiated pastures and swimming in streams where the fish geiger counters squeaked wildly.

Lydia had not known she was pregnant until she gave birth with partner Mikhail (right) in 1999, who cut the umbilical cord and washed his new daughter

Lydia had not known she was pregnant until she gave birth with partner Mikhail (right) in 1999, who cut the umbilical cord and washed his new daughter

Lydia had not known she was pregnant until she gave birth with partner Mikhail (right) in 1999, who cut the umbilical cord and washed his new daughter

Mikhail had been a fireman called to the power plant on the night of the disaster

Mikhail had been a fireman called to the power plant on the night of the disaster

Mikhail had been a fireman called to the power plant on the night of the disaster

While rumors swirled around her daughter's health, mother Lydia spoke out to say that Mariyka & # 39; was a sweet child who is absolutely healthy as far as we can see & # 39;

While rumors swirled around her daughter's health, mother Lydia spoke out to say that Mariyka & # 39; was a sweet child who is absolutely healthy as far as we can see & # 39;

While rumors swirled around her daughter's health, mother Lydia spoke out to say that Mariyka & # 39; was a sweet child who is absolutely healthy as far as we can see & # 39;

Rumors circulated and by the time her daughter was five years old, Lydia – then in her mid-forties – was forced to respond: & If people think she is a mutant or have two heads, they have it all wrong.

& # 39; She is a sweet child who, as far as we can see, is absolutely healthy. & # 39;

Interviewed in 2006, she said she was lonely without playmates in an area where visitors were banned for no special reason.

She said: & # 39; I wish there was only one other child here. I would show him or her around my house and the village – we can have a lot of fun together. & # 39;

Her parents remained under pressure from the authorities to move, but their ruined house remained Mariyka's house as she grew up – although she had to live outside of Chernobyl from the age of seven to attend school.

While Chernobyl redefined the headlines, Mariyka spoke to the Sunday Express newspaper.

Mariyka is now a healthy student in Kiev, where she works in a bar and wants to get a job in the hospitality industry

Mariyka is now a healthy student in Kiev, where she works in a bar and wants to get a job in the hospitality industry

Mariyka is now a healthy student in Kiev, where she works in a bar and wants to get a job in the hospitality industry

Asked about what she thinks of her past, Mariyka said: “I'm fine, I'm working. I take care of myself. This is the & # 39;

Asked about what she thinks of her past, Mariyka said: “I'm fine, I'm working. I take care of myself. This is the & # 39;

Asked about what she thinks of her past, Mariyka said: “I'm fine, I'm working. I take care of myself. This is the & # 39;

The entrance to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which exploded in 1986 in the worst nuclear disaster in the world

The entrance to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which exploded in 1986 in the worst nuclear disaster in the world

The entrance to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which exploded in 1986 in the worst nuclear disaster in the world

She is now 19 and is studying at a leading higher education institution and hopes to work in the hospitality industry. To pay for her studies, she works in a trendy bar.

She is reluctant to talk about her past, but has confirmed that she is healthy, it said Sunday Express: & # 39; I'm fine, I'm working. I take care of myself. This is it. & # 39;

Although Mariyka now lives and works outside the exclusion zone, she occasionally receives a permit to visit her mother, who is now 66, and still lives and works.

Her mother confirmed that Mariyka is healthy and is known as & # 39; proud & # 39; on the success of her daughter in life after her unique start.

Her health and success – confirmed by her mother and friends – is because the nature of Chernobyl fights against the terrible nuclear decimation it suffered 43 years ago.

The area is full of wildlife, with moose, deer, wild boar and wolves, as well as rare wild birds and flowers, some from the Red Book.

As her mother, now 66, said: "People here believe that Mariyka is a symbol of the Chernobyl Renaissance, a sign from God that they interpret it as a blessing to live here, and that life returns to this destroyed place. & # 39;

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