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Volunteers' Week Day 9: Chernobyl Children's Appeal NI

09 June 2016

Gemma Johnston volunteers with the Chernobyl Children’s Appeal Northern Ireland. The Chernobyl Children Appeal is a locally based cross community Charity offering children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster a respite holiday.

Here's Gemma's story:

"I'm married to Alan, together we have a little girl Grace who is 5 years old.   

I work for Fermanagh Trust in Fermanagh House which is where I first heard about the Chernobyl Children’s Appeal Northern Ireland

My role with Chernobyl Childrens Appeal Northern Ireland meant Alan, Grace and I were a host family to 2 girls, Yulia and Victoria, within a few days they decided to affectionately call us Mama Gemma Papa Alan and Detka Grace (Baby Grace)!

I originally got involved as the Charity was using the facilities at Fermanagh House to hold a meeting and I was so interested to see what was involved as with having a little one ourselves your heart goes out to other children less fortunate.

The Chernobyl Children Appeal (CCA) offer children from the areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster a respite holiday. The time that they spend with host families greatly improves their health and offers a tremendous boost to their immune system.  We could see this after only a few days their hair and nails looked so much healthier and after the 3 weeks they were thriving on the food....(even my cooking!) the fresh air and new positive experience. It was a truly humbling experience they had never used a flushing toilet and they basically arrived with just the clothes on their back. Language never seemed to be a barrier and Grace just loved having them in her home, it was so good for her to see the importance of helping others. As a family we can say by opening up our home we got as much, if not more as the girls got out of it.  We met some lovely people within the organisation as we had outings daily for the children and the support was on hand for any queries or concerns.

A totally positive experience volunteering as a family."

(Photo: Gemma is pictured on the left)

For more information vist Chernobyl Children Appeal Omagh & Fermanagh Branch on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cca.omaghandfermanagh

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