Saturday 10 October 2015

How Ali's Chernobyl charity shock tactics won over Helena

Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 19/12/2006 | 00:11

Helena Christensen was deeply moved by the plight of Chernobyl children
Helena Christensen was deeply moved by the plight of Chernobyl children

BONO'S wife used shock tactics to persuade supermodel Helena Christensen to become the first ambassador of a Chernobyl charity.

The model was so horrified by heart-wrenching footage of disfigured children by Ali Hewson and Adi Roche that she agreed to help raise the profile ofthe Chernobyl Children's Project.

Ali has just returned from New York where she partied with Helena at her birthday party at the weekend. She took the opportunity to finalise details of the model's new role and also made arrangements for a fashion show fund-raiser in Cork in the new year.

Danish-born Christensen, who is also a keen photographer, said she plans to get behind the camera and travel to the site of the nuclear disaster to take some shots of her own.

She will forego her normal big fee to raise funds for the charity at the Brown Thomas spring/summer fashion show in Cork City Hall on January 25.

Resourceful Ali and Adi got the supermodel on board during the 20th anniversary of the catastrophic accident, following a meeting in Dublin last July.

Ali's profile as a long-term patron of the charity is also about to become more visible in the new year when she becomes a policy-making member of its board of directors.

"Helena's chomping at the bit," laughed Adi Roche. "She's a very good friend of Ali and Bono and we decided to show her the first documentary we made. We also showed her some fresh footage of Ali and I when we went to speak at a UN conference. We told her there were things she could do, to use her celebrity and status for the cause.

"I was a nervous wreck and was dreading meeting her with another member of the charity in Dublin as she brought her agent and entourage. We were anxious how it would go and whether to show her the footage. But the picture tells a thousand words.

"She was very upset and angry when we showed her the footage and almost wanted to go over there immediately.

"We showed her images from a children's hospice care programme and a mental asylum where we do extensive work. She saw heart-breaking footage of cancer victims and deserted villages."

Meanwhile, a group of 100 children from Belarus arrived at Shannon Airport to celebrate Christmas and the new year with Irish host families yesterday. Chernobyl Children‘s Project brought 15,000 children to Ireland for rest and recuperation during the holiday season. Jim Short and his family from Kerry will welcome Sasha Nesterenko, who lives in Vesnova Mental Asylum, into their home. Sasha was featured in the Oscar-winning 'Chernobyl Heart' and would have lost his feet and hands but for the intervention of Tralee General Hospital.

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