Monday 5 December 2016

Adi Roche and Ali Hewson receive global humanitarian award for work in Chernobyl

Geraldine Gittens

Published 04/10/2015 | 12:07

Adi Roche and Ali Hewson have been presented with one of the world's leading humanitarian awards.

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Last night, Ms Roche and Ms Hewson received the 2015 Princess Grace Humanitarian Award in recognition of their incredible achievement in helping Chernobyl Children International (CCI) raise over €100 million since the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1996.

Bono presented the award to his wife and Ms Roche, along with the President of the Ireland Fund of Monaco Olivia Gaynor-Long.

Bono read out a speech by Monaco's Prince Albert to the capacity 500-strong crowd in Monaco, since Prince Albert was unable to attend the event at the last minute due to severe electrical storms in the French Riviera.

Prince Albert's statement said: “There is a calling for us all in life but some just hear that more than others.  Adi Roche and Ali Hewson are clearly among those and their response to that call has given hope where there was none.  I know that their calling is as strong as ever and the need likewise.  I wish them every encouragement and success going forward.”

Meanwhile, President Michael D. Higgins also said in a statement:  “This is a well-deserved accolade, honouring their great dedication to the children of Chernobyl. Chernobyl Children International was founded on a deep spirit of generosity, recognising the common humanity which binds us all."

"It has enabled the citizens of Ireland to reach out for many years in solidarity and support with those in our international community whose lives and futures were so drastically changed by the nuclear accident in Chernobyl on 26th April 1996."

“The commitment and hard work of Adi and Ali has ensured that the people of Ireland have never forgotten the children of Chernobyl.”

As Adi Roche received the award, she said: “We are eternally grateful to the Ireland Fund of Monaco, to Prince Albert and to so many people who have supported us here tonight.  We accept the award in the name of the Children of Chernobyl who are so often forgotten and relegated to history but who are still very much a part of the unfolding tragedy that is Chernobyl.”

While Ali Hewson said the award belongs to the volunteers and supporters of CCI.

“We are immensely proud to receive this award but Adi and I know that it belongs to the Irish volunteers and supporters of CCI over the three decades since the accident. All that CCI has achieved is due to their dedication”.

Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, said, “Amidst the tragedy of Chernobyl, Ali and Adi’s work shines. Through their courage and tenacity, they rescued thousands of children and have given them safe and secure lives.   From what could have been a desolate childhood, these children now have the chance to forge brighter futures. We are very much aware that the work must continue and at the Worldwide Ireland Funds we wish them every success and support they can get.  We are proud to salute and honor Ali and Adi.”

While President of The Ireland Fund of Monaco Olivia Gaynor-Long said the award was due recognition of the pair's selfless dedication to human rights in the region.

“Adi’s and Ali’s achievements with CCI and the amazing work they continue to do leaves us all in awe.  Raising over €100 million to make the lives of Chernobyl children better is a phenomenal achievement from where this all started.  Despite almost insurmountable obstacles, they continue to give hope to some of the most abandoned and deprived children in Europe.”

Adi Roche responded to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and formally founded Chernobyl Children International (CCI) in 1991 to develop programmes to support children and families living in the affected areas.

Ali joined Adi in 1993 and together they produced the critically acclaimed Black Wind, White Land—the first documentary that exposed an international audience to the plight of the victims of the Chernobyl accident.

Adi and Ali have researched and produced several award-winning documentaries about the Chernobyl disaster. The 2003 the Oscar-winning documentary Chernobyl Heart highlighted the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the health of children in the area.

Together, Ali Hewson and Adi Roche brokered an agreement with Belarussian authorities on behalf of the Irish government paving the way for the hundreds of Belarussian children to be adopted by Irish families.  CCI is today the largest contributor of aid to Belarus and the largest single purchaser of aid for the area. 

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