A GROUP of 30 children from Chernobyl have touched down in Dublin ahead of what looks set to be an unforgettable Irish Christmas for all concerned.
The party arrived at Dublin Airport to a warm welcome from their Irish host families who were joined by a choir of Dublin Airport staff singing Christmas carols.
All of the children hail from Belarus, which was the country most affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster.
Part of an annual trip organised by the Chernobyl Children International (CCI) charity, the youngsters arriving in Ireland are either orphans or were abandoned by their parents after they struggling to manage their various illnesses and disabilities.
The children reside in an orphanage located in a remote village roughly 175km from Chernobyl.
The orphanage was first discovered by Irish volunteers for the CCI back in the early 1990s.
Since then the CCI has worked tirelessly to help transform the orphanage into a "world-class child-care centre" through a variety of fundraising initiatives.
A group of 30 young people from Belarus affected by the Chernobyl disaster have arrived to spend Christmas in Ireland pic.twitter.com/vyBXegNZvz
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 19, 2019
To date the charity has contributed €107 million in humanitarian and medical aid to affected communities and children from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
More than 26,000 children from Belarus have been able to visit Ireland thanks to CCI, enjoying “life prolonging holidays” throughout the year.
It’s an initiative dating back 33 years, with the children visiting this Christmas set to benefit from an extended spell of rest and recuperation with host families
Speaking from Dublin Airport as the children arrived, the charity's CEO, Adi Roche told RTE: “This makes our Christmas.”
“There is nothing more magical than this moment for us in CCI. This is the true meaning of Christmas. It's about family and giving,” she said.
" Irish families from all over the country unite here every Christmas to show love to abandoned and orphaned children who live with huge physical and intellectual disabilities."