Delight as Kilkenny-bound Chernobyl group arrive for Rest and Recuperation

Among the group is 18-year-old Kristina, who was reunited with the volunteers who saved her life

Kilkenny People

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Kilkenny People

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

CCI group

A group of 145 special needs children from orphanages and homes in the Chernobyl-affected regions of Belarus, flew into Shannon Airport

Kilkenny families have once again opened their homes and their hearts to victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, last week welcoming the latest group of children from Belarus for their month-long Rest and Recuperation holiday.

The children are part of a group of 140, all of them with serious illnesses and disabilities, who brought to Ireland by Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International (CCI). They arrived into Shannon Airport on Wednesday, where they met their host families who come from ten counties across the country.

The Kilkenny Outreach Group, under the leadership award-winning volunteer, Jim Kavanagh, was on hand to welcome the largest group of children and young adults to Ireland for this programme.

Among the group this summer is 18-year-old Kristina Nikitsionak, who was reunited with the Irish volunteers who saved her life and offered her hope to live.

Kristina was abandoned to a state institution at a young age as a result of her multiple disabilities . In 2006, volunteers with CCI travelled to a village 120km from Chernobyl to work restoring a run-down orphanage. It was during this time they met the then-4-year-old girl.

Krystina could only walk on her knees and was in urgent need of corrective surgery. CCI Volunteers did everything in their power to get Krystina to Ireland for the surgery she needed. Without the compassion and generosity of these two volunteers and the medical teams at Cappagh Hospital, Krystina’s future would have been very bleak. Her left leg was completely amputated and Krystina was fitted with a full prosthetic as well as a brace that supported her other limbs.

The Summer Rest and Recuperation Programme gives children, who come from impoverished backgrounds and state-run institutions, a health-boosting reprieve from the environment and high levels of radiation to which they are exposed. During the month-long stay, radiation levels in the children drop by nearly 50% and up to two years is added to their life expectancy.

“Our wonderful volunteers have opened their hearts and their homes to these children every summer,” says voluntary CEO of Chernobyl Children International Adi Roche.

“These are children who so desperately need our help. While the Chernobyl accident happened 32 years ago the consequences last forever”.