Chernobyl child Alina retraces her mother's footsteps 21 years on
SHE had never been to Ireland before but little Alina Moza knew about it from stories told by her mother Natasha, who travelled here over 20 years ago.
Natasha, who is now 31 and married with two daughters of her own, came to Killarney, Co Kerry in 1993, seven years after the Chernobyl disaster devastated her homeland of Belarus.
Now, 21 years later, her daughter Alina (9) is getting the benefit of a month's holiday in Ireland – free from the contamination that has compromised the health of thousands of children like her.
Alina arrived at the home of Bridie Courtney in Cahermoneen, Tralee, at the weekend, one of 17 children being hosted by the Tralee and District Chernobyl Children's group.
The first thing she did was give Bridie a letter from her mother, explaining how she had stayed with Joan Buckley, one of the Friends of the Children of Chernobyl in Killarney all those years ago.
"She was so excited about being here," Bridie said.
"Her mum had told her all about Kerry and she couldn't believe she was in the same place all these years later.
"She's such a good girl and always wants to help and it's just a pleasure to have her here," added the widowed grandmother of one, who also has three adult children.
Bridie has been in touch with Joan in Killarney and they're making arrangements for her to meet Alina.
Natasha was the first child Joan and her husband, Pat, hosted and they've kept in touch.
"Natasha invited us to her wedding and although we couldn't go, we keep in touch all the time. She regularly emails my daughter Laura who is a couple of years younger than her," said Joan.
"When my husband Pat heard Alina was in Ireland he said, 'Get something special for her to take back to her mother'," she added.
During their stay in Tralee the children will enjoy trips to some local attractions, including the Aquadome, Crag Cave, the Wetlands Centre and they will travel to Dingle to meet Fungi the dolphin.