Irish families greet Chernobyl children at Dublin airport for Christmas respite
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Irish families greet Chernobyl children at Dublin airport for Christmas respite

THIRTY children from Chernobyl-affected areas landed into Dublin Airport today to spend their Christmas in Ireland.

The trip to Ireland for the festive period has become a tradition for the children and young adults from the Vesnova children’s institution in rural Belarus.

Families from Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Dublin, Mayo, Limerick, Galway, Wicklow and Wexford are welcoming children for a rest and recuperation holiday over Christmas.

Two young adults known as the two Sashas are being hosted by the Meaney family in Bray.

The two, who are wheelchair-bound, are now aged 28 and 29, and have been coming to visit the Meany family for 15 years.

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"This is our Christmas present, when the boys come," Kathleen Meany told RTE in advance of their arrival.

Ms Meany’s son Damien began the tradition of hosting the two Sashas when the boys were teenagers.

At that time they required an assistant and a translator.

Now they can speak English well and do not require an assistant.

Trina and Peter, two volunteers with the Chernobyl Children’s Project, got married earlier this month.

Instead of wedding presents or a honeymoon, they are welcoming their "Belarusian daughter" Maryna to Ireland for rest and recuperation.

Maryna was abandoned at birth because of her disability and lives at Vesnova children’s institution.

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On her visits to Trina, they paid special attention to develop Maryna's ability to communicate and walk.

Over the last five years Maryna has astonished everyone with her accomplishments.