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A couple years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, I was invited to Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to draw caricatures of the campers. That was a tricky assignment because some of the kids had disfiguring diseases, but I took the challenge, downplayed the negative and made it work so that everyone had fun. I drew two girls who were best friends on one sheet of paper. When I was finished, they carefully tore the picture in half and each girl kept the drawing of the other for when they could get together again. Talk about faith.

One group of kids there was from Chernobyl. They seemed to be around 7 to 9 years old and they all had cancer. They were bald and some were tired from having chemo earlier in the day, but they managed to smile when I drew their pictures. They didn’t speak English, but when I gave one little girl her picture, she said in perfect English in a small child’s voice, “thank you.”

I’m thinking of those kids as I watch the coverage of the people who live near the damaged nuclear power plants in Japan. I’m praying for them, because when big business climbs into bed with big politics, prayer is all we have left.

Stop by the Mark Twain House and Museum to see my exhibit of original editorial cartoon art. “Drawing Fire: Bob Englehart’s 30 years at The Courant.” It’s free and will be up through May. For more information, call the Mark Twain House and Museum at 860-247-0998. As long as you’re there, take a tour!

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