Chernobyl Children International
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (April 2013)|
|Type||Health, Humanitarian Charity|
|Area served||Belarus, Ukraine, European Russia|
|Focus(es)||Chernobyl nuclear disaster|
|Formerly called||Chernobyl Children's Project International|
|Website||Chernobyl Children International|
Chernobyl Children International (CCI) is a United Nations-accredited, non-profit, international development, medical, and humanitarian organisation that works with children, families and communities that continue to be affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. The organisation's founder and chief executive is Adi Roche, the Irish humanitarian and peace campaigner. Before 2010, it was known as Chernobyl Children's Project International (CCPI).
Chernobyl Children's Project International was founded in Ireland in 1991 by Adi Roche in repsonse to an appeal from Ukrainian and Belarusian doctors for aid. Roche, previously a volunteer in a nuclear disarmament group, received a fax in 1991 which read "SOS appeal. For god's sake, please help us get the children out," which inspired her to take action. That year, Roche set up a small workspace in a spare bedroom of her home and began organising 'rest and recuperation' holidays for a few Chernobyl children. Recruiting Irish families who would welcome and care for them, CCPI began in Ireland in 1991, and expanded into the United States in 2001. It changed its name to Chernobyl Children International in 2010.
Over its lifetime, the organisation has grown in strength and numbers and is now the single largest contributor to Belarus and the fallout from Chernobyl. It works closely with the Belarusian government, the United Nations and many thousands of volunteers in Ireland, Belarus and worldwide to deliver a broad range of supports to the children and the wider community. It also acts as an advocate for the rights of those affected by the Chernobyl explosion, and engages in research and outreach activities to encourage the rest of the world to remember the victims and understand the long-term impact on their lives.
To date, Chernobyl Children's contributions exceed €91 million in direct and indirect aid, and the 'rest and recuperation program' has brought over 22,000 children to Ireland, returning an average of two years to each child's lifespan. The organisation held many large-scale events on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on 26 April 2011.
Chernobyl Children International works with families and communities in Chernobyl affected regions to help them to overcome the domino effect of poverty, poor health, and social and psychosocial impact that was the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Active programmes of Chernobyl Children International include:
- Children's cardiac surgery program: CCI sends surgical teams into Belarus to perform operations and train local doctors.
- Nursing and therapeutic training programs: CCI sends volunteer nurses and physical/occupational/speech-language therapists to Chernobyl affected regions to work directly with children in understaffed medical institutions and provide training to their local counterparts.
- Community centers and programs: CCI builds community centers in under served and at risk communities. These centers host services such as: day care for working parents, therapeutic services for disabled children, child care classes, vocational training, employment services, after school programs and computer centers.
- Foster homes and at home care for disabled children: CCI provides support to families who take children out of orphanages to raise in their own homes. Currently, 14 families are in the program. Another program takes seriously disabled children off the waiting list for orphanages by managing home help services and training for their families.
- Rest and recuperation programs: CCI has sponsored over 12,000 children from contaminated areas to spend summer and winter holidays families in Ireland. CCI hosted many other children in camps in their home country of Belarus, including special camps for children recovering from heart surgery and cancer, and seriously disabled children.
- Hospice: A hospice program in the Gomel Region provides at home medical and psychological support for families of the most seriously ill children.
- "Aid Direct" humanitarian aid: CCI purchases and delivers necessary medical and humanitarian supplies in Belarus, for delivery to project sites and community centers throughout the country.
As a charitable, non-profit organisation, Chernobyl Children International relies heavily on the contribution of thousands of volunteers. CCI's volunteers are organised into three programmes:
- Medical Programme: Doctors, nurses, surgeons and dentists offer their time and talents to provide medical treatments and hospice care to the children of Chernobyl. Their efforts have saved the lives of thousands of children and reduced the pain and suffering of thousands more.
- Building and Construction Programme: Skilled electricians, builders and carpenters put their talents to work in building, refurbishing and renovating much-needed institutions, such as day-care centres, medical centres and asylums, and foster homes known as “Homes of Hope.” These volunteers put a safe roof over the heads of some of Belarus’s most vulnerable children and families, improving their health, sanitation, and comfort levels.
- Rest and Recuperation Programme: Families across Ireland open their homes and their hearts to more than 1,000 children affected by the Chernobyl disaster, giving them a chance to recover from the ravages of the toxic environment in which they are forced to live. Volunteers from Ireland and America also travel to Belarus each year to help run in-country rest and recuperation camps for children too ill to travel to Ireland.
The organisation also helps and maintains Volunteer Outreach Groups that are located throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Outreach groups organise their own awareness and fundraising events in aid of the CCI, and have helped raise millions of Euro for the victims of Chernobyl.
Board of directors
Hewson, the wife of U2's lead singer Bono, is one of the organisation's more visible members and patrons and has made a number of trips with the group to the Chernobyl-affected areas. All proceeds from U2's 1998 single, "Sweetest Thing," were donated to the organisation.
Chernobyl Children's Project International was the focus of the 2003 film Chernobyl Heart, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
The organization's volunteer activities were featured in the 26 April 2006 edition of People magazine.
The organization was awarded Special Congressional Recognition in 2006, for "outstanding humanitarian work".