Chernobyl orphan Yana returns to Ireland for month of recuperation
2018-07-01 12:51:34 -
By Staff Reporter

When 12-year-old Yana left the confines of her state-run institution in Belarus for the care of a volunteer family in Ireland, she stood on her feet for the very first time. 

Now the teenager has returned to Ireland for a four-week holiday, which Chernobyl Children International (CCI) hopes will aid her health and development.

Yana was born blind; she was given up at birth and placed in a home for abandoned babies. At the age of four, she was moved to Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum, which is supported by CCI. 

Yana has a number of conditions including autism, epilepsy and scoliosis. Because of her blindness, walking and talking were made almost impossible at the institution due to its lack of appropriate resources. 

However, Yana made a significant connection with two Dublin families, the Hogans and O’Sullivans, on her last trip to Ireland. And she will stay with them once more on her current visit.

Now aged 15, Yana is one of 140 children and young adults who arrived at Shannon Airport on Wednesday 27 June with Adi Roche’s CCI, with over 30 of them staying in Dublin. 

The charity’s Summer Rest and Recuperation programme gives the children – who come from impoverished backgrounds, orphanages and other state institutions – a health-boosting reprieve from the toxic environment to which they are exposed in Belarus, where the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in neighbouring Ukraine still reverberate. 

Since 1991, over 25,500 children from Belarus and western Russia have come to Ireland via Roche’s charity.
“It warms everyone’s heart here today to see the excitement on the children’s faces as they arrive safe and happy into Shannon,” Roche said. “Our wonderful volunteers have opened their hearts and their homes to these children every summer. 

“These are children who so desperately need our help. While the Chernobyl accident happened 32 years ago, the consequences last forever.”
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