By Mattie Fox
The Longford County Branch of Friends of The Children of Chernobyl are holding a fundraising concert in the Stags Head Ballinalee on Friday next, June 9.
Tickets are €5 each, but it's hoped most people will contribute more than that.
It is indeed a most worthy cause, spearheaded by several volunteers who give their time for free.
This is a cause, which will directly support around fifty orphaned children coming to Ireland for a recuperation month in July of this year.
Ten children will be accommodated in Longford.
This has been happening for some years now, and the Longford Branch is particularly lucky to have so many who volunteer their input for free, so as to allow the children benefit for a few short weeks. All Longford funds will be applied to the Longford project.
These children are average age 10, but most don't look it, as their development has been, and continues to be, hampered by the radiation which is forever prevalent in their home country. The incidence of birth defects and other ailments in and around Belarus is astonishing, and doctors predict that this will go on for a long time yet. After all, as one eminent doctor remarked "it's only 30 years since the explosion".
The Longford Branch was founded 30 years ago, in a response to the awful human devastation caused by the shocking explosion at a power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, close to Chernobyl.
The 1,000 tonne roof was blown off by a catastrophic nuclear explosion, in the aftermath of which the entire area of Belarus was badly affected and for years to come will continue to contaminate the air with toxic gases, causing terrible cancers.
A red glow observed during the Chernobyl accident was the colour of luminescence for graphite burning at 700 degrees centigrade!
Ironically, the blast was caused by a not-so-simple, but careless human mistake.
During a late night safety test which simulated a station blackout power-failure and in which safety systems were deliberately turned off, a combination of reactor design flaws, together with the reactor operators arranging the core of the reactor ignoring the stringent checklist for the test, resulted in reaction conditions that generated a destructive explosion. The after effects of the explosion will be felt for years to come, and countless children have been born with terrible side effects. The detail is too horrific to recount here.
The fallout of radiation affects western Russia, and Europe.
Two people died in the blast, while 29 others - firemen and employees - died in the months following the explosion, from acute radiation.
To this day infants are still being tested for cancer.....
On the night of the fundraiser, there will be no raffle, instead every name who bought a ticket for the event, in advance or on the door on the night, will be joined to the list attending and will benefit from inclusion in the draw where up to forty generously sponsored gifts will be raffled.
Seamus Farrell is playing on the night with the Ramblers doing a spot, and others, including yours truly.
We really appeal to everyone to come and join us in enjoying the night, just to show our commitment to the cause of the children from whom this will benefit.
Everyone needs to understand that the majority of children aren't able to travel, and have to stay home with their mums and family, because it would not be possible to care for them in transit. Most need constant hands on care.
It's not an easy task.....
Finally I cannot leave this without mentioning Carmel Reynolds and Joan McLoughlin who are just two of the many volunteers. They both do Trojan work behind the scenes way ahead of time. I've known about this night for almost three months.
At that stage they had everything lined up, travel, accommodation, carers, and have followed up by asking for sponsorship wherever they can.
The generosity of people astounds, and is a great sign of the goodwill that exists once people know it's all above board and will go directly towards caring for the children.
This may be the only holiday these children ever get.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fund can do so as follows:
Bank of Ireland
Sort Code : 901773
A/C : 58839351
IBAN : IE40BOFI9017 7358 839351