Chernobyl orphan warns new TV tourism wave is 'disrespectful and dangerous'

Raisa Carolan (26)

A survivor of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, who was abandoned in an orphanage before being adopted in Co Meath has described a new wave of tourism following the popular TV series as 'disrespectful and dangerous.'

Raisa Carolan (26) has undergone 25 operations to treat the many physical deformities she was born with as a result of the radiation from the disaster.

These included a cleft palate and eventual limb amputation because of being born with webbed legs and a club foot.

The determined young woman who now has a Masters in Criminology started life in No. 3 Orphanage in Minsk where she was left in her cot alone for days and whipped with belt buckles and nettles.

However, she now calls herself a 'Meath woman' after being adopted by Tom and the late Ann Carolan in Trim where she has lived since she was ten years old.

The new HBO and Sky TV docu-drama on the devastating nuclear power plant accident has attracted critical acclaim, huge audience numbers and a new phenomenon of Chernobyl tourism.

There have been reports of surges in bookings for trips to the site and the nearby town that was abandoned after the 1986 accident.

Raisa, who is an ambassador for the Chernobyl Children's International saw the series recently, describing it as "mindblowing, chilling and not for the faint-hearted."

"Not very many people knew the real truth behind it and I think this documentary as really shed a light on the truth.

"It's not been lost on me that a disaster of such magnitude has led to my life becoming like it is today."

Raisa has no good memories of her harsh orphanage life where she was physically abused and 'left to one side'

"You are treated as nothing and not worth the time to teach how to eat or talk. I was left in my cot in the same clothes for days.

"I was punished if I stepped out of line with a belt buckle or nettles from the nearby woods.

"There was a room in the orphanage full of toys - everything a child could dream of. But, it was all for show for visitors. When they'd arrive, we'd be allowed to play there, to pretend everything was great. When the visitors left, the toys were taken from us and the room was locked again."

Chernobyl orphan warns new TV tourism wave is 'disrespectful and dangerous'

Raisa plans to return to Chernobyl to try and find her real parents but does not condone the growing culture of Tourism to the area.

"I think it's in some way disrespectful to all the people who died and who sacrificed themselves so others could live. It's also very dangerous as there are still high levels of radiation there.

"The area is a ghost town for a reason because it's not safe and people need to think before they decide to go to take selfies."

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