The Chernobyl Children International charity, which brings children effected by the fallout from the 1986 nuclear disaster to Ireland each year has hit a funding crisis.
The crisis is largely due to the recent charity sector pay and expenses scandal, the organisation's chief executive Aidi Roche said today.
“Our funding has dropped by 60 per cent and unfortunately the recent (charity) scandals have had a traumatic effect on our work as it has throughout the charity sector.
Ms Roche said the charity sector needed to “rebuild” the trust of the public. “The intervention (of our charity) into mental asylums, and the quality of nursing that we supply, is all under threat. We are on the edge in terms of our funding,” Ms Roche said.
The children, who will spend a month with families across 17 counties in Ireland, have come from a mental asylum in Vesnova, a remote district in the South East of Belarus.
Hidden away from the developing city of Minsk, the local culture has been to cast out children inflicted with physical or mental setbacks.
Chernobyl Children International said it is a battle to change local attitudes. One Cork host mother described the living conditions at Vesnova as “very hard to comprehend”.
Mother of three Sharon Lynch, from Macroom — who regularly visits the institution claimed:
“They get three square meals a day, at a certain time. They are washed once a week, (that’s) once a week. It doesn’t matter if you are washed on a Tuesday and you have a dirty backside on a Tuesday evening, you are not washed again until the following Tuesday.
“They have a ration of three nappies a day. It’s very hard to comprehend,” she said.
Nastia (14), who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair threw her arms around her Cork host mother and husband Danny, after she saw them waiting for her at the airport’s Arrivals gate.
“I’m giving her hope. She sees there is something else outside of the four walls (of the institution).”
The institution at Vesnova is home to 170 children and young adults, many of whom have been confined to the asylum since birth.