Thursday 20 September 2018

Big-hearted Irish families won't let Chernobyl children be forgotten

Adi Roche, founder of the Chernobyl Children International charity, which responds to the unmet needs of children affected by the devastating disaster 30 years ago, with Igor Shadkov (16) at Dublin Airport this week Picture: Frank McGrath
Adi Roche, founder of the Chernobyl Children International charity, which responds to the unmet needs of children affected by the devastating disaster 30 years ago, with Igor Shadkov (16) at Dublin Airport this week Picture: Frank McGrath
Liz O'Donnell

Liz O'Donnell

A recent tragic court case has focused deserved public attention and empathy for the responsibilities borne by carers of children and people with disabilities. The evidence in the case outlining the round-the-clock intensive care of a profoundly disabled child was a revelation to many. That carers are deprived of adequate support and must become lifelong advocates for their children represents a major wake-up call for our own Government for priority action.

While Ireland can be criticised as a first-world country for the inadequacy of such supports, our democratic institutions and courts provide a forum where these rights-based issues can be raised, articulated and vindicated. By contrast, in some countries around the world, the plight of people with disabilities is one of abandonment to degraded institutions with scant or no recognition of the rights of the disabled person.

I am reminded of this by the ongoing work of Adi Roche and the Chernobyl Children International (CCI) charity which, along with thousands of Irish volunteers, has been responding to the unmet needs of children affected by the devastating health and environmental impact of the Chernobyl nuclear accident 30 years ago this year. Since that time in 1986, the charity has moved from immediate humanitarian and medical assistance to a deep and sustained engagement with families and communities in Belarus and Ukraine.

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