Nuala's Chernobyl wish finally comes true
NUALA O'Brien may be waiting on her Leaving Cert results, but she isn't sitting about twiddling her thumbs this summer.
This weekend, the 19-year-old from Fermoy, Co Cork, will become the youngest ever Irish volunteer to travel to Belarus to help children who still suffer as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.
Yesterday, Nuala was at Shannon Airport to greet Allina Pryhara (10) and Dary Baiko (9) who arrived on a flight from Minsk.
The two girls were with 136 children from Belarus -- whose parents were victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster -- and will stay with host families across the country for the summer months.
Nuala said she hopes to gain practical experience in Belarus which will help her become a disability nurse.
"I kept asking could I go over but they kept saying I was too young. Finally, I kept asking so much, they have decided to let me go.
"This is what I want to do in college, and then help out as much as possible with the children when I am older.
"Adi Roche (founder of Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children's International) rang me and asked what I wanted to work with -- so I'm going over with the medical team. I'm going to be working with special needs children full-time."
Translator Vita Liubuschenko accompanied the children yesterday. It is her seventh year coming to Ireland.
"All the volunteers do amazing work here. They really help our children to improve their health and just to feel happy," Ms Liubuschenko said.
"When we go back after the summer, the kids look different -- they become so much healthier. All of their families see and appreciate how beneficial their stay in Ireland is," she added.