Isobel fights for her beloved Natasha
LOCAL activist Isobel Sanroma has vowed to do everything in her power to improve living conditions for Natasha Huenchko after the 34-year-old was moved from her home at a children's orphanage in Novinki to a Belarussian psychiatric institution.
Natasha is a well known face around Drogheda as she has been spending a number of months living here each year for the past 20 years.
Earlier this year, she was moved from the orphanage in Novinki, where she spent her whole life, to an adult psychiatric hospital in an isolated, rural location 50kms outside Minsk.
Isobel said the hospital is extremely run down and Natasha is surrounded by elderly patients.
'I had to go out in May to try to negotiate a visa to allow her to come to Ireland,' said Isobel. 'She was moved earlier this year and we didn't think we would get her out again. There was a lot of red tape.
'Natasha took the move very hard, she is very unhappy in the new place and is very lonely for her. She spent 30 years in Novinki, it was her home but this year the centre got a new director and he decided she had to go. It was very traumatic for her.'
Isobel said Natasha took part in the day to day running of the orphanage, looking after the younger children and helping the staff.
'Then all of a sudden in April she found herself in a rundown institution with psychiatric patients. When I went out in May she was just a broken child.'
However, Natasha has just returned to the centre after spending what Isobel describes as 'a fantastic month' here in Ireland and the local woman is hopeful things will improve.
'She is now in a room with another young woman in her 30s and we will get working on the place please God. Adi Roche has said she'll help me. Hopefully we'll be able to do there what we did in Novinki 20 years ago.'
Isobel first took Natasha under her wing following a visit to the Novinki Orphanage for Special Needs Children where Natasha lived back in 1994.
'All the children were so introverted, it looked like their eyes were made of glass but Natasha's eyes were dancing. I asked about her and they told me her story, how she had been there all her life. It took four years to convince the authorities to allow me to bring her over to Ireland for a holiday but she has come every year since then.
'I just want to say a big thank you to all the people in Drogheda who have helped us over the years. We have a new challenge to face now and hopefully that support will continue,' said Isobel.