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Charity helps bring 56 Ukrainians to Mayo

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‘INSPIRATIONAL’ Lily Luzan, Candles of Grace.


Oisín McGovern

A CHARITY based in Islandeady is hoping to evacuate a school of orphan children from the Chernobyl region of Ukraine.
In the past month, Candle of Grace has helped 56 refugees come to Mayo and hosted 17 families who have fled the war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian children between the ages of four and 17 have begun their education in several local schools. Since the outbreak of the war, the charity has been on the frontline in sending aid to Ukraine and helping refugees to flee the war-torn country.
Candle of Grace was established in 2016 to help orphan children living in the Chernobyl region, which is still dealing with the fallout of the nuclear meltdown of 1986.
It does not currently receive any government assistance and relies on donations of cash, food, clothes and other items to fund its humanitarian mission.

No contact
The charity’s founder, Lily Luzan, has been unable to establish contact with the children or their caregivers for a number of weeks. It is not know if they are dead or alive.
Russian attacks on humanitarian corridors had made it too perilous to attempt an evacuation in recent weeks. The area has recently been re-taken by Ukrainian forces, which has reopened possibility of an evacuation. The region is home to approximately 40,000 people, including 4,000 children.
Speaking at the TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar on Sunday, Ms Luzan said securing a safe evacuation for the children was her main priority.
“On the second week of the war I got a phone call from the principal [of one of the schools] and she was crying. She was saying ‘My dear Lily, that’s it, you will never be able to evacuate us’, and the line broke,” said Ms Luzan. “Since then I am calling every day and there is no connection… I can’t stop thinking of them.”
Ms Luzan said the children would require appropriate accommodation and support if they are to be evacuated.

Good against evil
YESTERDAY (Monday) Red Cross volunteer Dmytro Bulahk was among those who departed Castlebar for Kyiv with two vans of humanitarian aid.
Mr Bulahk, who is a lawyer by profession, has been co-ordinating the distribution of aid for Candle of Grace since the start of the conflict and does not receive any funding.
He said that between 50 and 80 percent of many cities in Ukraine had been destroyed and that the Chernobyl region currently has no gas or water supply.
Continued funding is needed to ensure organisations like Red Cross can continue to provide support in Ukraine, he explained.
“You must understand this is not a war from Russian aggression against Ukraine. This is a war of good against evil, the light against darkness,” he said.

Inspirational
THIS week, qualified general practitioner Conor Farrell said that he would be travelling to the Ukraine to provide medical assistance to those wounded by the conflict. He will also assist in sourcing medical supplies for medics working in badly-hit areas.
Mr Farrell described the work of Lily Luzan as ‘inspirational’. “I’ve just sat by too many times and said ‘I’d love to help’. But this time, I said I just cannot stand by and look at what’s happening to you wonderful people. I just had to do something,” he said.

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To donate to Candle of Grace and find out more about its work, visit www.candleofgrace.ie/donate.

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