herald

Saturday 18 November 2017

'The life and soul of Christmas' - joy as Chernobyl kids arrive

Angelina Harakova from Chernobyl with Mary Suguru, Susan Suguru and her daughters Roisin (9) and Ciara (12)
Angelina Harakova from Chernobyl with Mary Suguru, Susan Suguru and her daughters Roisin (9) and Ciara (12)

It will be a Christmas to remember for 39 children from the Chernobyl region who arrived into Dublin Airport to spend the festive period here.

The kids, some orphaned and some abandoned by parents unable to cope with their illnesses and disabilities, landed in the capital yesterday afternoon.

After the excitement of Christmas carols at Terminal One, some got the chance to meet their host family for the first time - others were going back to families they know very well.

Foster

Vasili Yushynski (13) will be staying with two different families in Co Meath for the next fortnight. He arrived on his own from a foster home, but his brother, Sasha (14), who is in an orphanage, is set to join him on Friday.

It's his fifth year over here and one of those he'll be staying with is Geraldine McGarry from Enfield.

"I'm 60 years of age, I'm like a two-year-old when these kids come in, they are the life and soul of Christmas," she said.

Meanwhile, it was a long but exciting journey from Dublin to Kerry for Angelina (10), who was making her first trip to Ireland.

She cannot walk, use her hands or speak, and communicates with her eyes. She will stay with Susan Sugrue - who is a first-timer herself.

"We're ready for her and there's people dropping off presents at the house already," Susan said.

The whole airport was awash with excitement yesterday - as more and more Irish returned home for Christmas. The Green family from Ballinteer, Dublin, had been counting down the days until their daughter, Rachel, came home from Toronto - literally.

"She's been gone for 11 months, 16 days, 14 hours and 52 minutes," said dad Derek.

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