Aid donors head for Chernobyl to mark 31st anniversary today

Chernobyl crusaders Adi Roche and Ali Hewson are taking several core donors who helped sustain their charity during the recession on a fact-finding mission to the nuclear disaster-affected region today.

Aid donors head for Chernobyl to mark 31st anniversary today

As the UN marks the first UN Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day today — the 31st anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster — Ms Roche and Ms Hewson will host a two-day whistle-stop tour of areas in Belarus and Ukraine to show the donors how Chernobyl Children International (CCI) has spent their money over the last decade.

One of the donors is a wealthy Irishman who is now based in Detroit. Another is also based in the US.

Ms Roche, CCI’s founder and voluntary CEO, and Ms Hewson, a long-time director of the charity, said it is one of the most important donor missions they have led.

“At the height of recession here, when our funding dropped by up to 60%, these donors stepped in and allowed us to continue our work,” said Ms Roche.

“They invested their faith as well as their money in us and we want to show them the fruits of their efforts.”

In the conflict zone cities of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine and in the capital Kiev, they will meet members of an Irish-funded “flying doctors” mission where international cardiac surgeons are this week performing life-saving operations on babies and children suffering from congenital heart defects as a result of inherited radiation exposure.

Ms Roche said the UN’s remembrance day has given her renewed energy to continue her charity work.

The donor visit comes as President Michael D Higgins welcomed the UN remembrance day which was designated following Ms Roche’s landmark address to the UN General Assembly on the 30th anniversary of the nuclear accident last April.

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