Irish Charity “Chernobyl Aid Ireland” was formed twelve years ago. Its head office is in Waterford but its members span the whole of Ireland. Its main aim is to provide comfortable living conditions, good food and holiday respite for the children of Grozovo orphanage. All our members are voluntary, ordinary working people who give up their time freely to help make a better life for the children of Grozovo.
When “Chernobyl Aid Ireland” first started working in Grozovo the conditions were horrendous. The children had to shower in outside shower blocks with no heating and cold water often in severe -30 degree temperatures. Over the past twelve years most of the classrooms have been re-decorated. The dormitories have been refurbished, proper shower and toilet facilities added. Each dormitory has its own recreation room. All windows have been replaced in the orphanage. The heating system has been upgraded, a solar system installed and a new laundry room facilitates clean dry clothes all year round for the children. A new playground was erected. The farm was developed. The cow house was refurbished, the milking parlour installed, six cows were purchased. The food was provided to see them through winter. Very large farm building (shed) was imported from Ireland and erected by Irish volunteers. State of the art chicken house was also imported from Ireland, put in the place and filled with hens, purchased by Irish people. The piggery was totally refurbished to comply with Belarusian standards and the pigs were put in place and the food was provided as well. Water main was run from the school to the farm and all of it was done by Irish volunteers. The area round the farm was all fenced by electric fence. Automatic water troughs were put in place in the fields and in the cow house. The idea behind it was to help the orphanage become self sufficient.
There is still a major work to be done in Grozovo Boarding School. Four roofs has to be replaced, some external walls have to be plastered. There are still five classrooms have to be done, assembly hall has to be totally changed, a big outside store has to be re-roofed and refurbished.
There are twice yearly convoys - one in May which consists of up to 15 full truckloads of supplies. The second one in September can have up to 8 trucks travelling. All members of the convoys give up their own annual leave to travel to Grozovo.
There are many members of the group who have never been to Grozovo but who work tirelessly all year round fundraising the money to bring the children to Ireland and pay for supplies to take out to the orphanage.
Many families have built up close bonds with these children over the years. The children have stayed in summer from one to three months and at Christmas for three weeks. In the case of children that are now adults the Irish families have supported them financially in their third level education.