Derry’s Rose Eimear Anderson says she had a life changing experience visiting an orphanage in Belarus as part of Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International.
Eimear travelled to Belarus with 17 of the 2015 Roses where they spent five days volunteering. All of the Roses who have been collectively fundraising, managed to raise £40,000 for the orphanage.
For trainee teacher Eimear, it was an experience she will never ever forget.
“This is the first time I have ever done a volunteer trip,” she said. “Our Rose of Tralee Elysha Brennan couldn’t come with us but she was definitely there in spirit. She waved us off at the airport and sent us angels for the orphanage.”
During the five day trip the Roses visited an orphanage and mental asylum.
“The children in the orphanage were physically or mentally disabled because of the radiation,” explained Eimear.
“None of the them were alive at the time of the disaster but have suffered the birth defects. Some of the disabilities are very profound. But the children there are the most loving children you could ever meet. They deserve every ounce of love and help that we could give them.
“Something just kicked in for me during those five days and it is a trip and experience that I will never ever forget.”
Paying to tribute to her fellow Roses, Eimear said each of them had packed in a mountain of supplies.
“It was amazing to see how much stuff we had actually brought over,” she said. “It was a lovely feeling being able to hand over the toys.”
Eimear said her experience has made her consider Special Needs teaching, when she goes on to complete her teaching degree.
“It was hard coming home,” she said. “We built up such a bond with the children. We had to come home and have a shower because we weren’t allowed to shower when we were there because the water is still contaminated. But if I had the opportunity to go back I would.”
Voluntary CEO of Chernobyl Children International, Adi Roche said: “The effect that the Roses and Escorts have on these children is absolutely priceless.
“It gives these special children hope and shows them that there are people in this world who love them and care for them.
“They are a credit to their counties.”
The Derry Rose Centre are extremely proud of Eimeár and would like to encourage any girls to join them this year for the 2016 Derry Rose selection.
Further information on how to enter the Rose of Tralee is available on Facebook or www.roseoftralee.ie