CORK-based charity, the Greater Chernobyl Cause, is attracting worldwide attention with the opening of a new hospice in Kazakhstan later this month. The opening is the culmination of years of work for the founder of the charity, Fountainstown-based Fiona Corcoran.
The Cork native has helped to transform what had been described as ‘a hospice from hell’ in the former Soviet republic, thanks to overwhelming support from generous donors from every corner of Ireland.
Fiona found elderly patients were forced to sleep on bed springs outdoors, so filthy and dilapidated was the original building in the industrial city of Semipalatinsk.
‘This in an area where temperatures plummet to minus 40 degrees Celsius in winter,’ she said. ‘The pitiful daily food allowance was just 4 cents per patient and produced little more than watery porridge gruel.’
The Kazak Government granted the charity a piece of land in the grounds of the city’s hospital and it has been equipped with proper dormitories, heating and the very latest medical equipment.
‘During the humanitarian aid trip to Kazakhstan, Victor Shine of Cork City Fire brigade and David Hick from UCC Cork will conduct resuscitation up-skilling courses to medical practitioners in the region,’ explained Fiona.
Semipalatinsk is in a region that has long been contaminated with radioactive fallout from the Soviet Union’s 40-year nuclear testing programme. This part of Kazakhstan remains polluted with radioactive materials and the population continues to suffer from this silent menace and grinding poverty.
Fiona said she is overwhelmed by the support she has received for the hospice project.
‘From the bottom of my heart I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of our supporters who helped us to end the living hell of these poor unfortunate people. We have, together, given them dignity and a sense of worth and well-being in the final years of their lives.’
She said the charity’s operation was crucial. See also greaterchernobylcause.ie.