BY OLIVIA KELLEHER
THE Fountainstown-based head of the Irish charity, the Greater Chernobyl Cause, has spoken of her pain after hearing that abandoned babies and young children in a care home they support in Kyiv have had to be taken from their sanctuary because of the war.
Charity director Fiona Corcoran says ‘Father’s House’ in Kyiv is one of their partners in Ukraine and a project which she has felt passionate about for many years.
‘It is a children’s home which takes orphaned and abandoned children off the streets, providing a loving home environment, care and education.
‘It is heartbreaking to think that now, on top of the trauma they have already suffered, these brave children are now caught up in a war.’
Dr Roman Korniyko, charity director of ‘Father’s House’, has described recent efforts to evacuate children from the care home near Kyiv to the Polish border.
He recounts one incident where they stopped at a petrol station to take children to the bathroom only for them to hear the sound of explosions.
‘We later learned it was the airport shelling. Police officers escorted us heroically, covering the children in case a shell hit the gas station, and took us away from the gas station. They later asked our buses to turn off the lights and follow them at top speed. They turned on their emergency lights to show us the direction of traffic and put themselves in danger in the process. These are the real heroes and we are proud of our police.’
Ms Corcoran says she was particularly impacted by a photograph sent to her of two babies from the care home who are now staying in a facility on the outskirts of the Polish border. She has also received pictures of older children crying as they left their sanctuary.
Meanwhile, Ms Corocan has seen the care she provides to vulnerable men, women and children curtailed – initially by the pandemic and now arising out of the war. She has worked in the region for over 25 years assisting the poor, ill and desperate in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. The charity has arranged and funded the building of orphanages, care centres and hospices for those abandoned and forgotten by family and state, namely children and the elderly.
Ms Corcoran has been overseeing the sending of a 40ft truck containing clothes, tents, blankets, hot water bottles and medicine to Ukrainian people who are crossing over the border to Poland.
However, Ms Corcoran is heartbroken at not being able to properly assist the projects in the three countries that rely on funds from the charity.
‘In my 26 years doing this work, I have never felt the way I feel now. This is the first time we will be sending a shipment to a border. They can’t go any further.
‘I am heartbroken about our existing projects. We can bring aid as far as the border, but that is as far as we can go.
‘People in our projects are sending me photographs of them huddled together in a basement. Some of them are children. Some are late sixties or early seventies. How would you ever envision that something like this could happen? Our hearts go out to our people and our projects.’
She has vowed to continue to fundraise to send humanitarian aid.
She also aims to start funding their projects again as soon as possible.
‘It is a devastating situation. I feel so overwhelmed. I have never felt like this. It is hard to find words.’
Donations can be made to the Greater Chernobyl Cause at www.greaterchernobylcause.ie
Businesses or individuals who would like to help pay for shipping costs can also contact Ms Corcoran at [email protected] or at Unit 2, Southside Industrial Estate, Pouladuff Road in Cork.