The casualties of war are often unseen and that’s never been more apparent than in poverty-stricken Belarus.
The country, tied up with Putin’s Russia, is ruled by dictator Alexander Lukashenko and its poorest and most vulnerable citizens are locked away in abysmal conditions in institutions and orphanages out of sight hidden in forests throughout the country.
Belarus was the country most affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the fallout continues, as the children – who never grew old, watched their children suffer on with illness, disability and poverty.
Chernobyl Aid Newry was founded in 1997 to support the neglected children and families of Belarus.
Jacinta Curran was a pharmacist when she happened upon the charity when one of its founders came in for supplies to take to Belarus. Her medical knowledge was requested and she joined Chernobyl Aid Newry in 2001. They work tirelessly helping the Institutions, orphanages and asylums, providing them with whatever they require.
Before Covid the charity travelled bi-annually to Belarus with medical and food supplies, clothing, money and they even built a half-way house – in poignant circumstances - for a group of men who had been institutionalised since birth.
While all of our focus is naturally on the Ukrainian people right now, things have gotten even worse for the poor in Belarus. Any meagre amount of funding these state-run institutions receive will now go to the military for Lukashenko’s support for Putin.
For this week’s podcast Jacinta tells Armagh I just what it’s like in the forests of Belarus and all of the work that Chernobyl Aid Newry does to alleviate the suffering.
The stories are harrowing but the urgency and genuine distress and love Jacinta feels for these people is palpable when you listen to her speak.
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