It is hoped around 400,000 An Post cards will be sent to the four corners of world in the run up to March 17, with money going to the Chernobyl Children’s Project and Sport Against Racism Ireland.
Chernobyl Children’s Project director Adi Roche said the campaign had married the need for fundraising with solidarity for victims.
“I think we are sending a very clear message to the victims and survivors of Chernobyl on the 19th anniversary that they are not forgotten, that they are not abandoned, that they are not alone,” she said.
Ms Roche said the card campaign, now in its 19th year, would also boost the work of those fighting racism in Ireland.
“It also gives a message to a range of people coming from other countries who have been maybe suffering from the effects of racism and maybe sends a different message to them with the campaign against racism,” she said.
“It shows that compassion is alive and well in Ireland. It sends a message that Ireland still has that deep sense of responsibility, that deep sense of conscience of throwing that lifeline.”
It is hoped 400,000 An Post cards will be posted over the next four weeks earning over €80,000 for each charity.
Sport Against Racism Ireland co-ordinator Frank Buckley urged the Government to do more to tackle racism.
“What we need is leadership from the Government. Maybe there is a lack of thinking in politics. There’s definitely not enough discussion. Leadership is a huge issue,” Mr Buckley said.
Model Lizanna Kirwan wrestled with a boa constrictor snake before posting the first card in central Dublin along with Ms Roche and Mr Buckley.
The six postage-paid cards, created by international designer John Rocha and artist Graham Knuttel, are available at post offices nationwide, costing €2.70 and €1.80. Fifty cent from each will be given to charity.
The Chernobyl Children’s Project has also planned to send a €1.5 million convoy to western Russia and Belarus in April.
Ms Roche said the 15 articulated trucks and 12 fully equipped ambulances would provide resources to thousands of families in the former Soviet state.
There are plans to bring around 1,000 children from Belarus to Ireland for rest and recuperation later this year. Ms Roche said a child’s life could be extended by up to two years for every month they spent abroad.