The Longford Friends of the Children of Chernobyl are searching for host families for children this July in what will mark almost a quarter of a century since they first began visiting Longford.
For 24 years, families of Longford have been welcoming children into their homes, giving them the opportunity to enjoy a holiday.
“We're looking for families to host children during the month of July,” explained Joan McLoughlin. “They spend two weeks with a host family before staying with another family for a further two weeks.”
Since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 over 600 children have been hosted by families. Joan explained: “They first came as a result of the disaster in '86 as part of a nationwide organisation. Longford then started its own group to bring children to have a recreational holiday.
“We collect them in Dublin airport and place them with their families and they partake in a number of different activities during their stay.
"We organise trips to the zoo and to pet farms. They don't have much English so we try to bring them back together as much as possible.”
Joan cited the experience as rewarding for both the children and the host families. “They are very well-behaved and the host families report back a very positive experience. Some host families do it year after year; we have families consistently with us.”
She continued: “It's a really positive experience. The children benefit so much, they are different going home to when they arrive. When we go out to Chernobyl during the year we meet the children and their families and they all report a very positive experience.”
If you are interested in helping out or becoming a host family, or if you would like more information on the organisation, contact Joan on 085-8372144.