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Children of the world putting their hearts and hopes in our hands

AS the growing international economic crisis deepens, it is precisely at this time that we need to look beyond ourselves and beyond our own immediate concerns to think of and reflect on the plight of the world's poor and destitute.

It is easy to become despondent and wonder if we even have enough for our own — charity does begin at home, indeed it does — but it can also reach out to those beyond our shores.

Many of those in greatest need are now facing a double-blow. Charities are predicting huge downturns in expected income this year, with the knock-on effect of reducing services and programmes designed to help the world’s poorest children. The Irish overseas aid budget has already been reduced by 17%, a cut far in excess of any other public spending. On the eve of the Government’s impending budget, we appeal to the Taoiseach and government ministers to protect and ring-fence the Irish overseas aid budget against any further cuts.

We have long been a nation of givers and for such a small nation we have achieved acknowledgment and respect worldwide for our social activism, volunteerism and humanitarian aid work. Throughout history we have consistently fought for justice and right.

Let us now speak up for those whose voices need to be heard and for those who need our help. The people of Ireland can still reach out to others, despite our difficulties, in fact because of our difficulties we can now know even more so what it is to struggle and to see hope fade in the wind of economic storms.

We are appealing to the government and to the ordinary individual, do what you can to protect the world's most vulnerable. Protect the Irish overseas aid budget. Lend a helping hand today by persuading the government of the importance of continuing to give to the world's most vulnerable — volunteer on any one of our programmes; nursing, building projects or promote awareness and sell charity pins during National Chernobyl Week.

Every volunteer, every donation, every grant given to us by Irish Aid is a privilege and a real gift. The children of Chernobyl and in many of the poorest countries in the southern hemisphere put their hearts and their hopes in our hands.

Adi Roche

CEO, Chernobyl Children's Project International

Ballycurreen Industrial Estate

Kinsale Road



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