By Jane G.
Adi Roche was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary, in 1957. She is a campaigner for peace, humanitarian aid and education. She was working as a volunteer with the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1991, when she received a fax message from Belarus, a country ravaged by the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. This message, which was to change the course of her life, simply stated “SOS, for God’s sake, help us get the children out!”. So began her life’s work, to establish Chernobyl Children’s Project International, which since its establishment in Ireland in 1991 has delivered over €80 million in aid to the areas most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and has brought over 13,000 children to Ireland on rest and recuperation vacations, some for life saving surgery. The organization expanded into the USA in 2001.
For her work with CCPI, Adi has been honored by various awards: the Medal of Francysk Skaryna (by the Belarusian Government), the European Woman Laureate Award, Irish Person of the Year, the European Person of the Year award, The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the World of Children’s 2010 Health Award. She lives in Cork, with her husband of several years, Sean Dunne. They have no children of their own.
In an interview in Hot Press magazine in 1997, she stated that she had suffered a number of miscarriages in the early years of her marriage. Because she subsequently chose to pursue a career of humanitarian work involving exposure to areas of high level radioactive contamination, and because of the sheer time commitment her work takes up, she and her husbanded decided to remain childfree. In another interview she is quoted as saying ” the day we cannot shed a tear for another human being or feel an emotion about the suffering or the agony of another human being, no matter what part of the world they are in, is the day I think we switch the light off on the planet, because we have lost who we are as a species and we have lost our sense of responsibility of being part of the human family”. A mother not in the conventional sense, but a mother to thousands of children none the less, Adi is the person whom I proudly nominate as an Irish chero.
Jane G is 42 year old Irish woman, who is married and childless not by choice. She lives in County Tipperary with her husband and three cats, and works in the field of finance. She and her husband recently became involved as a host family with the Chernobyl Lifeline Ireland project, an organization which arranges rest and recuperation visits to Ireland for children from disadvantaged areas of Belarus. Read about their life changing experience with their two adorable seven-year-old Belarussian guests here.