PEM staff give up a half day's pay to help Belarus charity

Two weeks ago, an RTE documentary showed footage of a child in Belarus having his tonsils removed without anaesthetic. It happens regularly, the programme revealed: anaesthetic is too expensive.

But the harrowing scene so upset workers at a firm in Mullingar that they decided last week to each donate a half day's pay to help with the drive to improve conditions in a region which is still suffering the after effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The upshot is that staff at the engineering firm PEM Automation, based at Mullingar Business Park, raised ?1812.91 from their efforts - and that figure has been pushed up by a further ?1,100 from donations from other sources who heard about the PEM staff's effort, making for a total of ?2,982.91.

David Oelke, Store Manager at PEM, did not see the documentary himself - but reveals that the day after it was shown, it was the main topic of conversation among PEM's staff.

"One of the guys here has adopted kids from Belarus, and done a lot of work for the orphanages, and people here were just shocked by the film."

The documentary was "The Children beyond Chernobyl on RTÉ", and it focused on the work being undertaken by the Adi Roche-led charity Chernobyl Children's Project International (CCPI) in orphanages in Belarus.

"Adi Roche was present when the operation was filmed," says David, who explained that it emerged in the programme that the child was strapped to a chair, and completely conscious as the operation was carried out.

A local charity in Kilbeggan, "Caring for Kids Kilbeggan Belarus" fundraises to help with orphanages in Belarus, and staff at PEM decided to offer their half day's pay to that charity to help with their work.

"They organise all sorts of things in Belarus and they don't take an administration fee, so the money goes wherever it is needed in Belarus," says David.

Those at PEM who had seen the documentary told their colleagues of their shock at what the film revealed, but no-one really knew what they could do, David and a colleague came up with the idea that they all volunteer to give up a half day's pay apiece.

"After I explained the whole story, they agreed to work from 12 to 4.30 one day last week for the children of Belarus," says David.

Approximately 19 people participated, and when word got out, the other donations came in.

"Paul and Ted Cotterell from Dublin gave us ?350, Kender Bearings from Mullingar gave us ?250, and

a special mention to Dara Cromwell who I only met once, and who only heard about this 2 days ago, and made a donation of ?500," said David on Friday.

On Monday of this week, the money was handed over by PEM staff to Paula Donaghy of Caring for Kids Kilbeggan Belarus.

"This is the first time we have done this. It was just such a hard hitting documentary," says David.

"I hope people will sit up and see the difference a half days pay can make to the lives of poor kids all around the world," he concluded.



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