Chernobyl Hope – People Magazine






From the People Magazine article: Twenty years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, three American women go back to a forgotten land to bring modern care and unconditional love to the mentally and physically disabled children left behind.

Yes, one of those three American women is Suzanne.

We knew the article was being written. After all, one of the authors and a photo journalist met Suzanne and her colleagues during the last trip they made to Belarus. What we didn’t know was what would be written, what photos would be used, or even exactly when it would be published.

Chernobyl Hope - Suzanne Reese - Photo by Antonin KratochvilOpening the April 24, 2006 issue of People Magazine to page 104, it is hard not to get choked up at the two page image of my wife offering comfort to 4 year old Nastya Gerasimuk while the dressing on a wound is changed. The photo speaks volumes about lives of the disabled children who call the Vesnova Children’s Asylum in Belarus their home, the dedication Suzanne has to improving their lives, and how much these children have touched our lives. Yes, our lives, and I’ve not met any of them.

The article chronicals a few days spent with Suzanne, Jennifer O’Dea and Kathy Ryan at the asylum in Vesnova this past March. Jen is an occupational therapist chosen along with Suzanne to join the efforts of the Chernobyl Children’s Project International back in October, 2005. Kathy is the executive directory of CCPI. There are many volunteers who travel to Vesnova, mostly from Ireland, working to improve the lives of the children in the asylum. The specialties of the volunteers are varied. Nurses, therapists, and construction workers are among the types of people Suzanne has worked alongside during her visits to Belarus.

Brief yet informative, the People article touches on a lot of a typical day in the asylum. It still seems a bit surreal to me, with a photo of Jessica Simpson on the page before the article, and a birthday tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on the pages that follow. Proud? I’m telling everyone I know.

Previous entries reference preparing for the first trip and Suzanne’s experiences from that trip. Suzanne’s new web site, www.CompassionateChild.com, contains more on her experiences and her efforts to improve our world by “nurturing the inherent love and compassion our children are born to share.”