TEN Northside families have welcomed a number of young children affected by the Chernobyl disaster with open arms.
The children were flown over from Chernobyl earlier this month as part of the Chernobyl North Dublin Outreach Group to stay with a number of host families throughout North Dublin.
Secretary of the project Vanessa Kennerney, from Oldtown in north county Dublin, who has tirelessly campaigned to raise funds for the project, said she is thrilled to be able to share her home with two of the 20 children involved.
“It’s working out great,” Vanessa told Northside People.
“We’ve got lots of stuff organised for the children to keep them busy while they are here. They’ve already had a tour around the Fire Station in Finglas and they really enjoyed that.
“People have been great. We’ve been offered free lifts on the local ‘nifty’ bus to get the children around.
“We’ve got lots of stuff planned for the weeks ahead. We hope to bring the children to the Tayto Park and Fort Lucan.”
Vanessa said the Chernobyl Children’s Project attempts to raise money every year to ensure the children can visit Ireland.
She said examinations had shown that the children’s health improved after they spent time away from areas affected by radiation.
Three translators also accompanied the children to ensure that they can interact effectively with their host families.
Vanessa told how she planted 25 oak trees, donated by Coillte, last year to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster at the Backweston Campus, Celbridge, County Kildare.
“It takes a full year of fundraising to get the children here but it’s worth it. Some of the children are fostered or come from impoverished backgrounds so it’s an amazing opportunity for them to experience.”
Sean McNulty, also from Oldtown, said he too has opened his doors to two of the children as part of the project.
“The children are learning so much,” he stated. “They’ve acclimatised well and we haven’t had any problems with them at all.“
Sean said the children have attended a number of events that have sought to improve their culinary and swimming skills.
“We’ve got a lot planned for them over the coming weeks including a free trip to Duffy’s Circus,” he added.
In the 20 years since the establishment of Adi Roche’s Chernobyl International Aid, 21,000 children have been provided with recuperative aid.
Over €90 million has also been delivered to areas stricken by radiation such as Belarus, Western Russia and the Ukraine.
The charity comprises 6,000 volunteers and provides vital lifesaving machinery to children in need.