7 March 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Cianna McNally

“Emotional,” “Memorable” and “Bone-chilling” are just a few words that Monaghan Rose Eleanor McQuaid and Escort David McGettigan used to describe their recent four-day trip to a children’s mental asylum in Chernobyl, Belarus.

Towards the end of last month Eleanor and David travelled to Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum in Chernobyl along with the current Rose of Tralee, Haley O’Sullivan, 14 other international Roses and Jonny McGailey (Newbridge Silverware Escort of the Year).

They were also were joined by Adi Roche, founder of Chernobyl Children International, Marie Cox (medical director), and Brendan Galvin (camera man). A dentist named Natasha, who is originally from Belarus but now lives in London and does much work with CCI also travelled with the group. Natasha helped with translations along with tending to the Vesnova children’s dental hygiene while she was there.

“If I was to say that my few days in Vesnova felt like a lifetime I wouldn’t be lying. I think I was scarred, healed, taught, cleansed and frightened all at the same time. It’s an atmosphere and a place that I didn’t think could exist in today’s world, but it does,” David told the Northern Standard. Similarly, Eleanor said that she found it very difficult to put into words her experience in Belarus but added that she had learned to appreciate her life “to the maximum” following it.

A typical day for Eleanor and David in Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum involved them helping to feed the children, who suffer with a variety of mental and physical disabilities, and spend time with them. Both Eleanor and David agreed that the children were shown very little in the way of warmth or affection by those responsible for caring for them.

“The carers employed by the Belarussian government, do not view these little kids as human and as a …

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