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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

Igor was abandoned in an orphanage as a baby - now he spends his summers in Ireland with a loving family

150 children will arrive in Ireland today to spend the summer with Irish families.

IGOR USED TO crawl on the floor and be fed on all fours like an animal.

Abandoned in an orphanage as a baby, he suffered huge physical impairment his entire life and never learned how to talk properly.

The only way he knew how to communicate was to bite, scratch or spit at people.

Igor, like thousands of children across Belarus affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster suffered extreme mental and physical trauma throughout his life.

But that all changed when he came in contact with Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International charity.

Now 16, he has been given loving care by the charity and a specially-adapted mobility scooter to help move around properly.

Igor will arrive in Ireland tomorrow along with 150 other children from Belarus to spend summer with their Irish families to mark the 30th Anniversary since the nuclear disaster.

Chernobyl Source: Jason Clarke Photography

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster

On 28 April 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine suffered a meltdown, the effects of which are still being felt today.

Igor is one of the many children who is still affected by the disaster.

Chernobyl Children International (CCI) try to help the children living in poverty and state-run institutions by taking them out of the area temporarily.

The charity pairs the children up temporarily with families in Ireland for rest and recuperation away from the toxic environment to which they are exposed in their home countries.

Set up by voluntary CEO Adi Roche in 1991, the charity has since brought 25,000 children to Ireland for rest and recuperation holidays, as well as deliver over €100 million worth of aid to communities in affected areas since 1986.

“Our wonderful volunteers have opened their hearts and their homes to these children every summer,” said Adi Roche.

While the Chernobyl accident happened 30 years ago the consequences last forever. My heartfelt gratitude to the volunteers who offer hope to live to the children who the world has largely forgotten.

The children

The children come from a range of background and areas – and all have been helped by the charity:

download (8) Nastya with Sharon and Danny Source: CCI

Nastya (16) was abandoned in an institution in Belarus as a baby and up until seven years ago had never been outside of its walls.

She suffers from cerebral palsy and never had even a wheelchair to help her move around.

She started visiting Ireland seven years ago and spends every summer with volunteer host family Sharon and Danny Lynch and their boys in Cork.

Since she started visiting, her language skills have improved, she has learnt English and has become a member of the Lynch family.

Chernobyl Nazar Lysau with Michelle Fitzpatrick from Portlaoise. Source: Jason Clarke Photography

Nazar (13) will make his second trip to ireland tomorrow and it will only be the second time he has left the Belarusian institution where he was abandoned as baby.

Nazar is deaf and non-verbal and until last year had never seen the sea or been to a beach.

That was the first port of call last year for his new hosts Michelle Fitzpatrick and her family and this year they will welcome his back.

Tens of other children will make the journey to Ireland tomorrow to be met by their Irish host families.

“While the Chernobyl accident happened 30 years ago the consequences last forever,” said Adi Roche.

In this the 30th Anniversary year of the worst nuclear disaster in history, we must recommit, rededicate and redouble our efforts to help alleviate these children’s suffering.

Read: 30 years on: The impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Read: Check out these amazing photos of the wildlife thriving in Chernobyl’s fallout zone >

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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