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News: 23 Jun 2020

Heartbreak for Tralee: Chernobyl Children’s Summer trip cancelled because of Covid

23 Jun 2020

2018’s winners of the “Volunteers of the Year” award and Chernobyl Children International Outreach Group Leaders for Tralee, George and Mary Sugrue are stalwart supporters of CCI’s work and have been volunteering with the charity for many years.

George and Mary Sugrue’s life is an extraordinary glimpse into the unstinting generosity of the Irish people and our ability to open our heart to the children affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and are still doing so, over 34 years later. George and Mary were among the first of hundreds of Irish families who opened their hearts and homes to these children in the wake of the catastrophic nuclear accident to provide the children with health boosting break from the toxic environments they lived in.

Through their advocacy and hard work they founded the Chernobyl Children International Dental Programme.  Each year George and Mary drive over 3,000kms to provide high standard dental care to children who have been abandoned to Children’s Mental Asylums. This year’s dental trips have had to be temporarily postponed because of the Coronavirus Crisis.



Following in his family’s footsteps, Ian and Susan Sugrue welcomed 10-year-old Angelina to their home in December 2016.  Their daughters, Roisin and Ciara, instantly bonded with Angelina, and shared their experiences with the Tralee Community as Angelina was special guest at the local junior ParkRun where the family volunteer.

Angelina was abandoned when she was just five years old.  She has cerebral palsy and her care needs were too great for her family to cope with. She was placed in the Chernobyl Children International supported Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus.   Angelina instantly began to thrive, upon arrival in ‘the Kingdom’ thanks to the loving care provided by “Mama Susan”, “Papa Ian” and their two daughters, Ciara and Roisin.  In the time since Angelina’s first visit, Susan has volunteered with her local Enable Ireland to further understand how she can provide high-standard care for Angelina and all her needs.

Angelina is just one of the children who has had her Summer Rest and Recuperation trip to Ireland cancelled on account of Covid 19 this year.  These month long trips are funded by Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International and offer a much needed holiday to the children who visit from Chernobyl each year.

The Summer Rest and Recuperation Programme gives the children, who come from impoverished backgrounds and state-run institutions, a health-boosting reprieve from the toxic environment and high levels of radiation to which they are exposed.  This is due to the ongoing re-contamination of the environment by Forest fire in the effected regions.

Since 1991, over 26,500 children from Belarus and Western Russia have come to Ireland through Adi Roche’s charity on this Rest and Recuperation Programme. The Board of Directors and all the dedicated volunteers at CCI are all deeply saddened that this year’s trip has been cancelled and can’t wait for travel restrictions to ease in the future. Everyone will miss Angelina and the many other children who were due to visit this year.