Rose of Tralee Escort of the Year Jonny McGailey has just returned from Vesnova Childrens Mental Asylum in Belarus and described the trip as a “profoundly moving” experience.
Jonny was volunteering with Adi Roches Chernobyl Children International. andwas accompanied by the 2013 Rose of Tralee Haley O’Sullivan and 14 other Roses from around the world.
“It was an incredible experience. It’s very difficult to describe” Jonny told the Democrat. “It was very emotionally challenging.”
While in the children’s asylum, Jonny and the Roses helped care for some of the 170 kids in the asylum who have a variety of physical and mental disabilities.
Many of the children are still being born with terrible deformities and illnesses as a result of the radiation from the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster.
“The work that Adi Roche does over there is remarkable. If it wasn’t for her work these children would receive little if any afffection. The conditions over there put into perspective our healthcare over here.
“The Belarus government doesn’t class the children in asylums like Vesnova as citizens. “
Jonny was in a low risk area of radiation but could not eat local food, drink the water or even wash themselves while there.
The team spent four days feeding, playing with and loving the children who get very little if any one to one attention.
“When we first went there I was really apprehensive, but the more we were there, the more you got into it. You really grow an attachment to the these children and I’d very much like to go back there maybe in the next year.”