Adi Roche and Santa Claus to welcome Chernobyl children for an Irish Christmas, 30 years after Chernobyl tragedy

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December 19, 2016



A group of 39 children with special needs – many of whom have come from turbulent backgrounds – are to be flown from the Chernobyl region of Belarus to Ireland for the best Christmas holiday of their lives.
The children, some orphaned, some abandoned by parents who were unable to cope with their illnesses and disabilities, live in a remote region of Belarus that is heavily affected by the fallout of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
Many of these children reside in Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum, an orphanage which was hidden in a veil of secrecy during the years of the Soviet Union. It was discovered by Irish volunteers working with Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International charity in the early 1990’s. Since then it has been transformed into a world class child care centre and each year scores of its residents come to Ireland for Christmas and summer rest and recuperation holidays.
CCI Founder and Voluntary CEO, Adi Roche, will welcome this latest group of highly excited children into Dublin Airport on Wednesday, 21st December, who will be met there by the Irish host families with whom they will spend their Christmas holidays.  They will arrive at 14.35 following a very early start and a long journey from Belarus to Ireland, via Lithuania, which Mr and Mrs Santa Claus is providing a special escort for!
Voluntary CEO of CCI Adi Roche said, “The Irish people have been reaching out to these children for thirty years and not only has their enthusiasm and kindness never wavered, it actually grows every year. This year is particularly poignant as we have been reminiscing, throughout this 30th Anniversary year, about the children who have crossed our paths…many of whom aren’t with us anymore. The care and affection given by Irish families to these children helps their physical health, mental health and their emotional and cognitive development.  What they provide is truly priceless!”
“For many of these children, nothing as magical as this will ever have happened in their lives.  This is the true meaning of Christmas – it’s about family and sharing.  Some of the host families at Dublin airport will have hosted children of Chernobyl many times before, and they will be the first to tell you how these children truly become part of the family and an integral part of Christmas traditions” she said.
The arrivals of the children comes only 2 weeks after the United Nations historic recognition of Chernobyl and designation of “International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day” following Adi Roche’s call-to-action on April 26th this year.    

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Individual stories:
Nastya’s story 
Nastya has been part of CCI’s Rest and Recuperation programme for 7 years and stays every year with her loving hosts Sharon and Danny Lynch and their boys in Cork.  Over the years they have developed a special bond, with Nastya who is considered one of the family.Nastya was abandoned to an institution in Belarus as a baby. She has cerebral palsy and had never been outside the walls of the institution because she didn’t have a wheelchair. She never experienced simple things like the wind. Her visits to Ireland have helped her to blossom, given her many opportunities, her language skills have improved and most importantly, it has given her the sense of family that Nastya had been missing.
This year is a particularly special year for Nastya and the Lynches, as they are welcoming a second child for Christmas – Nastya’s best friend, Luda. This will be Luda’s first Christmas in Ireland and will be a great opportunity for her to recuperate from living in the most toxic environment on the planet.
Igor’s story
Igor and his wonderful personality charms all those who meet him. This Wednesday, 21st December, Igor will leave Venova Children’s Institution and join his loving host family in Castlebar, the Coxs, who consider Igor as one of the family. Igor is just one of thousands of children who were abandoned to bleak institutions as babies. When CCI first found Igor, the conditions in which he lived where inhumane. His communications skills were almost non-existent and he was prone to biting, scratching and spitting. Igor has lived with huge physical impairment all his life. Through CCI’s intervention Igor was able to receive the love, care and attention he so desperately needed and deserved. A wheelchair specially adapted to Igor’s needs has given him mobility and freedom. Igor comes to Ireland twice a year as part of CCI’s Rest and Recuperation Programme.
Over the years he has developed into a happy boy, with vastly improved communication skills. Igor as well as all the other children on our Rest and Recuperation programme benefit greatly from a clean environment, healthy food and loving host families.
Maryna’s story 
Maryna is coming back to Ireland as part of our Rest and Recuperation Programme. She will be staying with her Irish family, the Gilchriests. Trina Gilchriest and family have hosted Maryna, who has grown up in Vesnova Children’s Institution, for the Christmas and Summer since 2013. Trina, who often travels to Vesnova, says that Maryna has become like family, that she is their ‘Belarussian daughter’.