Fam­i­lies open their hearts and homes

Irish Examiner - County - - News -

A group of 140 chil­dren, all of them with se­ri­ous ill­nesses and dis­abil­i­ties, have ar­rived in Ire­land for a few weeks’ rest and re­cu­per­a­tion — thanks to Adi Roche’s Ch­er­nobyl Chil­dren In­ter­na­tional (CCI).

Among them is 15-year-old Nikita Dudko who is here for a sec­ond time, fol­low­ing the suc­cess of last sum­mer’s health-boost­ing trip.

Nikita, like so many other chil­dren liv­ing in Ch­er­nobyl’s bleak shadow, has had to live with ad­verse health ef­fects as a re­sult of the deadly 1986 ac­ci­dent. Nikita has what is now known as a “ge­netic marker” which he will carry with him for decades to come.

Aban­doned at birth by his par­ents, Nikita lives in Or­phan­age No 7 in Minsk, Be­larus.

He is spend­ing four weeks with the Ho­gan fam­ily of Fer­moy. The Ho­gans have been vol­un­teers with CCI for a num­ber of years. Nikita also spent last sum­mer with Richard and Shee­lagh Ho­gan, who in­stantly no­ticed a boost in the teenager’s health and well­be­ing.

The Ho­gans are also host­ing Maryna, who ar­rived ear­lier in June. Maryna has been in state care in Be­larus since she was six-weeks-old and, ever since, the No 7 Or­phan­age in Be­larus has been her home. Maryna first ar­rived in Ire­land when she was just six and has been com­ing to stay with her Irish fam­ily ev­ery sum­mer and Christmas since. She has be­come an im­por­tant part of their fam­ily and has cel­e­brated many birth­days, wed­dings and chris­ten­ings with the peo­ple who love her dearly and con­sider her one of their fam­ily.

Ev­ery year the com­mu­nity of Fer­moy help to make Maryna’s an­nual three-month respite stay in Ire­land a re­al­ity through fundrais­ing and do­na­tions.

The Sum­mer Rest and Re­cu­per­a­tion Pro­gramme gives chil­dren, who come from im­pov­er­ished back­grounds and state-run in­sti­tu­tions, a health-boost­ing re­prieve from the toxic en­vi­ron­ment and high lev­els of ra­di­a­tion to which they are ex­posed.

Dur­ing the month-long stay, ra­di­a­tion lev­els in the chil­dren drop by nearly 50% and up to two years is added to their life ex­pectancy.

Re­cent stud­ies have high­lighted the ben­e­fits of rest and re­cu­per­a­tion to the chil­dren live in some of the world’s most ra­dioac­tive con­tam­i­nated lands in the Ch­er­nobyl af­fected re­gions.

Nu­clear bi­ol­o­gist, Dr Ian Fair­lie, has, in re­cent years, de­clared that “be­yond a rea­son­able doubt, with the sup­port of strong epi­demi­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence, chil­dren’s health im­proves greatly when they are re­moved from toxic en­vi­rons”.

As the chil­dren ar­rived in Ire­land, vol­un­tary CEO of Ch­er­nobyl Chil­dren In­ter­na­tional, Adi Roche, said: “It warms ev­ery­one’s heart here to­day to see the ex­cite­ment on the chil­dren’s faces as they ar­who rive safe and happy into Shan­non. Our won­der­ful vol­un­teers have opened their hearts and their homes to these chil­dren ev­ery sum­mer. These are chil­dren who so des­per­ately need our help. While the Ch­er­nobyl ac­ci­dent hap­pened 32 years ago the con­se­quences last for­ever.”

Adi Roche with then 14-year-old Nikita Dudko, who ar­rived in Ire­land for the first time last year. Nikita is back again this year with the Ho­gan fam­ily of Fer­moy.

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