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News: 1 Nov 2023

Adi Roche and Chernobyl Children International Archives donated to UCC

1 Nov 2023

University College Cork (UCC) and Chernobyl Children International have announced that the archives of Adi Roche and Chernobyl Children International have been donated to UCC.

Spanning over five decades the archives are extensive collection of materials charting the activism and advocacy Adi Roche, as well as her groundbreaking work with the Chernobyl Children International (CCI) charity.

Adi Roche, a humanitarian, activist and campaigner for nuclear disarmament, founded Chernobyl Children International in 1991, providing humanitarian aid to the affected children of Ukraine, Belarus and Western Russia. The charity saved the lives of generations of children affected by the devastating impact of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Among the archives are artefacts, photographs, film and correspondence from the inner-workings of an organisation that developed from a grass-roots movement to an international United Nations’ recognised NGO. The archives include Adi’s personal collection of records of her work with CCI and historic items from her time as an activist with Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Artefacts include radiation maps showing the spread of radioactive materials following Chernobyl disaster, pamphlets from the Irish Anti-Nuclear and Peace movements, and ‘Chernobyl Liquidator medal’ gifted to Adi by Valeriy Zaytsyev.

CCI is the sole organisation working in the Chernobyl area to be honoured with UN official NGO status and included in the collection is a poignant multi-media exhibition which the charity hosted at the United Nations in New York. It features photographs from acclaimed Magnum photographer, Paul Fusco, which brought world-wide attention to the cross-generational impact of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Ensuring victims and survivors will never be forgotten

Speaking on her hopes for the archive at UCC, Adi Roche said:

“Our wish is that it acts not just as a source of information on how ‘mass movements’ and ordinary people can make a change in our society but also it will provide solid research material for future students. The archive spans many decades from the height of the Cold War right to the present day. It is important that we preserve this history, this legacy of social justice activism for safe-keeping and posterity. This archive is not just about ‘book learning’ but is about a different set of learning embracing all the senses, some of which is tactile, experiential, visual and ‘hands on’.”

Roche also commented on why it was so important for UCC to be the right home for the collection:

“It is an honour and privilege to have our humanitarian response preserved and protected forevermore by UCC. This archive will act as a true testimony to the victims and survivors of Chernobyl ensuring that they will never be forgotten.”

UCC President Professor John O’Halloran said: “Adi Roche is a trailblazing humanitarian, a driving force for peace, hope and courage and a true inspiration to all. Despite facing almost insurmountable obstacles, Adi has ensured that the people of Ireland have never forgotten the children of Chernobyl. In this time of terrible war, this archive calls on us all to renew our commitment to innocent victims, to stand up, give witness and protect current and future generations in the Chernobyl regions.”

Response to Ukraine Crisis

Under Adi’s leadership and with the work and dedication of thousands of volunteers around the country, CCI has delivered more than €108 million worth of medical and humanitarian aid as well as sustainable humanitarian programmes that have impacted on the lives of those in the affected regions of Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia.

37 years after the disaster, Chernobyl is unfortunately ‘front and centre’ as a result of the devastating war in Ukraine. CCI had the infrastructure to immediately respond in the Chernobyl regions affected by the war, nimbly and quickly. CCI were not only able to continue programmes, but also expanded them, while targeting areas of unique need in both Ukraine and Belarus.

New stage of cultural collections at UCC

University College Cork’s acquisition of these archives marks an important stage in the development of contemporary cultural collections at the university.

Coral Black, UCC University Librarian, said: “The activism of the peace movement in Ireland were at the heart of the Irish response to Chernobyl. It is vital that we preserve the records of this citizen-led response to a disaster so that it can be an exemplar to others.”