'The true meaning of Christmas': 40 Chernobyl children to spend Christmas in Ireland

'The true meaning of Christmas': 40 Chernobyl children to spend Christmas in Ireland
Adi Roche

40 children with special needs will fly into Dublin Airport this lunchtime to spend Christmas away from the damaging effects of Chernobyl.

It is a tradition which sees host families from around the country open up their homes to children living in state-run orphanages in Belarus - three decades on from the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Adi Roche from Chernobyl Children International (CCI) says Ireland is the only country in the world that holds such a unique bond with the children - and grandchildren - of Chernobyl.

"The humanitarian footprint of Irish volunteers and donors is truly immeasurable, but has improved the life-chances and outcomes for tens of thousands of children who have been affected by Chernobyl over the past 32 years,” said Ms Roche.

"This is the true meaning of Christmas – it’s about family and sharing.

"The positive impact these stays have on the children is a testament to three generations of truly remarkable Irish volunteers.”


Tomorrow, President Michael D Higgins will welcome a group of the children and their host families to Áras an Uachtaráin for a Christmas celebration.

"For these children, nothing as magical as this will ever have happened in their lives," Ms Roche said.

We cannot express how grateful we are to President Higgins for welcoming the children and their host families to Áras an Uachtaráin. It’s an incredible honour.

Among the children visiting this Christmas is 17-year-old Igor Shadzkou who will receive a brand new, custom-built wheelchair.

Igor has a range of physical and developmental disabilities and has outgrown the chair that had been provided by CCI.

CCI contacted Sligo-based Luke Conway who immediately responded and was able to give Igor this very special Christmas gift.


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