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Accidentally, while returning home, I came
across the Munster Chernobyl Aid convoy, as it was assembling at Portlaw one
evening last month.In brilliant
sunshine, a large number of local people turned out to talk with those drivers,
co-drivers and helpers before they were cheered on their lengthy journey to Belarus,
with much-need aid for the many unfortunate people there. The colourful signage
on the various trucks was quite striking, and hopefully got the message about
the continuing plight of inhabitants of that area across to thousands on that
lengthy journey right across Europe
Some of the truck signage.
The name Chernobyl will never be
forgotten, following the disastrous explosion at the Nuclear Power Plant there
on April 26th, 1986, resulting in the deaths of numerous people, then
at the site itself, and ever since from various types of cancer, other fatal
illnesses, and deformities caused by the radioactive fallout.
The town of Pripyat, with a
population then of over 50,000, had to be abandoned, and many nearby villages
were heavily contaminated, resulting in a wide exclusion zone. However hundreds
of the elderly inhabitants of these areas refused to leave and be re-housed
elsewhere for fear of the inability to settle down in such areas.
Possibly the worst hit people were
the children born later with severe birth defects, cancer and other serious
illnesses, many of whom are maintainted in poorly-equipped homes and stark
surroundings. Furthermore many such children have also lost their parents.
Humanitarian Aid from Ireland has
been an outstanding gesture for many years, but hundreds of those children have
been brought to various parts of Ireland for a holiday each summer also, being accommodated
by numerous generous families.
It is not possible to give a more
detailed account here of the present-day situation in the affected areas, and I
do not have any further information on ‘Munster Chernobyl Aid’ but am adding
some lines hereunder as published in St. Patrick’s Church weekly newsletter
with the kind permission of the author, Margaret O’Hara, whose husband,
Michael, travelled with the convoy:
convoy that left the square in Portlaw on Sat. Sept 7th have returned home safe
and sound. A gruelling round trip of over 6,000 km was made by 12 men and one
brave woman. The members of the convoy - in particular the three local men
Noddy Jacob, Dixie Maher and Mick O’Hara would like to thank most sincerely Fr.
Richard for his lovely words of encouragement at the start of the trip, the
pipe band and the people of Portlaw and beyond who came out in great numbers to
send them safely on their way. They would also like to thank everyone, too
numerous to list individually, who donated in any way to make the trip the
success it was. Over 85 tonnes of aid was delivered to the people of Belarus.
No words could describe the joy this aid brought to these humble people; let’s
just say ours don’t know how lucky they are. Roll on next year and may the next
trip be as successful."