A TD and Senator have praised the incredible work of Irish NGOs at the Chernobyl Baby Home, built by Irish donations and volunteers.
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell, and Fine Gael Cork Senator and Seanad leader, Jerry Buttimer, said the Minsk facility offers babies and young children end of life care with dignity and respect.
Deputy Farrell, who is Head of the Irish Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Chairperson designate of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, said: “The No.1 Baby Home is where Chernobyl Children International pioneered the first ever Baby Hospice/Palliative Care unit in Belarus.
“It is also supported by the Belarussian Government which has now built other such care units based upon the model pioneered by Adi Roche. The facility is currently offering palliative care to 15 children.
“The care being offered to these children was made possible by the generosity of Irish donors who gave both money, and their expertise, to the development of this project.
“Seeing the health difficulties which these children are battling was heart-breaking, but the dedication of every staff member to providing the best possible care to every child was inspiring.
“As the new Chair of the Children and Youth Affairs Committee, I will work with my Oireachtas colleagues to ensuring every child, at home and abroad, who is facing mental or physical disabilities and ailments, receive the care and support they both require and deserve.
Senator Buttimer said: “We would like to thank the facility’s 150 staff who were so welcoming to us on our visit. Their passion to providing the best care possible to every child was evident from the moment we arrived. This was showcased through the professional and caring manner in which they treated each child. Outside of the palliative care unit, there are 78 children being cared for in this facility.
“While there, we met Brother Liam O’Meara, a Christian Brother and former schoolteacher from Clare. Brother O’Meara left his profession 25 years ago to dedicate himself to providing assistance to the Burren Chernobyl Charity, and is a key figure in the provision of care in Belarus for children and adults with disabilities. Burren Chernobyl, which was established in 1993, provides care services for 300 children and 2,000 adults with mental and physical health difficulties as a result of the Chernobyl reactor explosion.
“Burren Chernobyl also finds headstones for the children who have passed away in their care, ensuring these children have memorials.
“Ensuring these children receive dignity and respect throughout their time in care, and in the heart-breaking cases, when they pass away, is of the utmost importance to every care provider we met during our time at the Chernobyl Baby Home No. 1 in Minsk.
“It is important that we continue to raise awareness of the great work undertaken by Adi Roche. Even though the tragedy occurred a generation ago, it crucial that we continue to ensure awareness of the difficulties people face as a result of the Chernobyl disaster remains at a high level.
“I was very struck by the continuing effects on the people of Belarus and especially young children a generation on from Chernobyl. It may be an event from the past but we must continue to support the work undertaken by Adi Roche and the Chernobyl Children International organisation, which Adi founded.”
Deputy Farrell and Senator Buttimer are also attending the Annual Session of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Minsk this week and over the weekend.