Thirty Years After Chernobyl, Irish Aid Is Still Crucial
By Siobhan Peters, Editorial Assistant
August / September 2015
As the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster approaches, Chernobyl Children International (CCI), founded by Irish woman Adi Roche in 1991, continues to offer support to those affected by the disaster.
The catastrophe occurred April 26, 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then part of the U.S.S.R.), and long-term effects from the worst nuclear accident in history are on-going. Over 6,000 children born annually in Ukraine suffer with genetic heart conditions as a result of the direct radiation poisoning endured by previous generations.
Early detection and treatment are essential – without both, one in three of those affected will die before they reach their sixth birthday.
“[Ukraine] has had to bear the brunt of the enormous cost of dealing with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for the past 29 years,” Roche, a Tipperary, native said. “It has had to deal with the economic and health consequences of that catastrophe, and now its most vulnerable children are the latest victims.”
Since the founding of Chernobyl Children in1991, the organization has provided respite care in Ireland for 24,700 children from the regions worst affected by the disaster, something which could not have been done without the support of Irish altruism, emphasizes Roche.
In May, together with U.S. organization Flying Doctors, CCI completed a successful medical mission to Eastern Ukraine, two hours from the war zone, to carry out much-needed cardiac operations for at-risk children. All involved with the mission worked intensively at the Kharkiv Center of Cardiac Surgery in Ukraine for two weeks to provide life-saving surgery for more than 30 children with congenital heart disease.
“CCI’s intervention and the generosity of the Irish people and funders around the world means that 6,500 heart operations have been performed over the past ten years,” said Roche.
“Huge numbers of lives have been saved.” ♦