Local families opening their hearts to Chernobyl children

Eveline Smith has welcomed 16 children in the past from Chernobyl to Fermanagh

Eveline Smith has welcomed 16 children in the past from Chernobyl to Fermanagh

AS the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster is marked, local families are preparing to welcome children affected by the Chernobyl explosion on their annual summer visit to Northern Ireland
The Chernobyl’s Children Appeal brought 3,400 children to the North between 1994 and 2014.
Part of the support group’s responsibilities is to help raise the funds required to bring the children home for three weeks’ respite care. It costs £600 per child, but considering the huge benefits this bestows on the children in terms boosting their immune systems, reducing their radiation levels and extending their life span by anything up to six years, it’s something that money could not buy.
Fermanagh Group Leader Eveline Smith from Dromore has been involved with the charity for the past eight years. She has hosted 16 children and will welcome two more this summer.
“Coming here takes them away from the contamination that they face on a day-to-day basis. The children are measured before they leave to record their levels of radiation and again when they go back. They come here for fresh air, food and just to enjoy the general comforts that we have to offer. The three weeks that they are here reduces their radiation levels by anything up to 40%. When they arrive, you can see the sunken cheeks, pale skin and even infected sores but after just a few days here with treatment and vitamins, you can see the healing process starting.”
This year 18 children are coming to Fermanagh and Omagh from Monday 18th July to Monday 8th August. An interpreter stays with each group during the three weeks and will spend one day a week with each family giving them a chance to find out more about the children and the area they come from.
“Every year you feel apprehensive about them coming but when they’re here, they teach us as much as we teach them. My own family always love the company when they’re here and learn a lot from them. It soon seems like they’ve been here forever because nothing fazes them at all. We do get attached to the children and it does break your heart when they leave ,” Eveline added.
During the three weeks, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and local businesses sponsor various fun events and activities that the whole group attend with the children, giving them an opportunity to mix together as families and draw support from each other.
While the host families for this year have been secured, Eveline says the charity is always looking for new ones.
“If the full three weeks seems too much of a commitment maybe you could team up with a family member, friend or neighbour and share the children.”
If you strongly feel you can help out contact Eveline on 079 82263428.

To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

Youngsters from nuclear disaster zone thriving on Irish visit

Over 27 years have passed since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, but a group in the county remain committed...


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA