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Chernobyl Children International hoping success of HBO mini-series will help increase donations

The founder of the Irish charity which has helped thousands of children affected by the world’s worst nuclear accident says she hopes the global reaction to the critically-acclaimed US TV miniseries Chernobyl will translate into donations.

Chernobyl Children International’s (CCI) founder and voluntary CEO, Adi Roche, said some €12,500 in donations have been made in recent weeks during the screening of the harrowing HBO and Sky Atlantic series in recent weeks.

The gritty series dramatises the accident, the aftermath, the clean-up operation and the subsequent inquiry, and charts the stories of the brave firefighters and miners who save Europe from becoming a nuclear wasteland. It also exposes the attempted cover-up by Soviet authorities.

Show creator, Craig Mazin, and several cast members have used their social media platforms to encourage people to donate to CCI.

Ms Roche welcomed the spike in donations but said the charity is down significantly on its 2019 budget: “We are a long way from where we need to be. We hope the success of the series will translate into increased donations. But we have been at this for 30 years. I am not someone who gives up. This disaster fades from the headlines, and from the memories of ordinary people but this series has quietly taken the world by storm. It has revealed the truth, it tells the inconvenient truth and honours the stories of those involved. It manages to get behind what really happened in a digestible fashion for people who are not nuclear scientists. With its raw truth-telling, this series has burst the bubble of lies and deception and cover-up. It has re-inspired us and re-enthused us.”

CCI is currently funding a team of paediatric cardiac surgeons who landed in Ukraine this week to perform life-saving open-heart surgeries on babies, some as young as 12-hours, who have been born with the congenital heart defect ‘Chernoybl heart’. The heart is one is the organs most vulnerable to the effects of radiation. The cardiac programme has directly saved the lives of more than 4,100 children over the past two decades.

The success of the series has also driven up the number of tourists wanting to see the former nuclear power plant and the abandoned city of Pripyat nearby.

Since 2017, the shattered remains of the reactor building has been covered by a vast metal dome. The containment unit has a lifespan of 100-years. The radiation fallout from the 1986 accident will last for thousands of years.