Killoe sisters Emily and Aisling Hughes, daughters of Margaret and Frank, are due to depart shortly for their second trip to Vesnova.
They will be travelling with a medical team from Adi Roche’s charity Chernobyl Children International and Emily told the Leader: “We will be flying to Minsk with a stopover in Germany. From Minsk, we will travel via very rural roads to a remote village two hours from the capital called Vesnova. The orphanage is located at the end of a dirt road, in the middle of dense forestry.”
When they arrive there, Emily and Aisling will spend their time caring for approximately 120 children and teens (up to the age of 18).
The 2012 Longford Rose winner Emily explained, “These children and teens have a variety of physical and mental disabilities. The care they receive on a daily basis is very, very basic, so the help provided by the volunteers from Ireland is often the only affection these children will receive for months on end.”
She added, “The ratio of carers to children in Vesnova Orphanage is so imbalanced, that the kids don’t ever get brought outdoors by the staff.”
Aisling is a speech and language therapist, and Emily is working as a doctor in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Eccles Street, Dublin, so they are both hoping to be able to add to the skills mix of their group.
Both Emily and Aisling are naturally apprehensive about the emotional impact of an experience like this, but are really looking forward to seeing the kids again.
“They really do give you a different perspective on your own life,” Emily said.
The weather in Vesnova at the moment is cold, but dry. Last year the girls were arriving in the midst of several feet of snow, so it will be a change for them to see the countryside around the orphanage without the blanket of white.
Emily said she and Aisling have been overwhelmed by the response to their appeal for donations.
“I never would have expected such generosity, particularly in light of the fact that I had a similar fundraising drive last year. It is so encouraging to be supported by our family, friends, colleagues, and community.”
The girls are covering their own costs and all money raised is going to the care of the kids in Vesnova who are essentially ignored by their own society.
Aisling and Emily’s mother Margaret said, “I’m a little cautious because of the Ukraine situation but I’m sure Adi Roche will have a safe pass sorted for the girls.”