Families open their hearts and homes
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.