For Immediate Release:  March 3, 2004    
CHERNOBYL HEART Documentary Wins Oscar

Next month marks 18th anniversary of disaster
The film features work of Chernobyl Childrens' Project

Contact: Kathy Ryan

Washington, DC—An independent film highlighting the work of Chernobyl Children’s Project (CCP) received the Academy Award on Sunday for Best Documentary Short Subject.

CCP is the Irish affiliate of US organization Chernobyl Children’s Project International (CCPI). The win comes as CCP and CCPI prepare to mark the 18th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster with a medical and humanitarian mission to Belarus.

CHERNOBYL HEART, produced and directed by independent filmmaker Maryann DeLeo, focuses on the continuing effects of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 on the children of Belarus, the country most affected by what the United Nations calls the worst technological disaster in the history of the nuclear age. The film follows an October 2002 delegation of CCPI and its partner, Chernobyl Children’s Project/Ireland, as representatives traveled into the “exclusion zone” to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The film chronicles the invisible trail of radiation to the country’s hospitals, cancer centers, orphanages and mental asylums.

“This film has helped shine a light on the situation that still exists in Belarus, 18 years after the Chernobyl incident,” said Adi Roche, CCPI’s international executive director, who is featured prominently in the film. “The children there suffer debilitating illnesses, declining social and economic conditions, and psychological effects as a result of the disaster. This is a generation that has been marked by this disaster.”

The 39-minute CHERNOBYL HEART features the children of the Vesnova children’s home, which is located about 125 miles (200 km) southeast of Minsk, near Bobruisk. The facility houses more than 150 high dependency children and young adults, aged five to 25. Chernobyl Children’s Project has been working with Vesnova since 2002 to improve conditions and treatment for the children there.

The film also features Dr.William Novick, a noted cardiac surgeon whose work in Belarus is funded by CCPI. More than 7,000 children in Belarus are on an ever-growing waiting list for lifesaving cardiac surgery.  The CCPI cardiac surgery program offers operations, and training for Belarussian physicians that will allow them to provide appropriate care on an ongoing basis. The next series of surgeries are schedule for the first week of May. During the same week, CCPI and Operation Smile will launch a 5-year mission to provide surgeries and medical training to aid children in Belarus who require facial reconstructive surgery.

“CCPI congratulates Maryann DeLeo, and all those associated with the film,” said Sherrie Douglas, CCPI’s U.S. executive director. “Our hope is that the film will build awareness of the plight of the children who continue to suffer from the medical, social, and economic effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. It is our responsibility to offer not just humanitarian aid, but long term solutions to be sure that the children of Chernobyl are not forgotten.”

About Chernobyl Children’s Project International

Chernobyl Children’s Project International Inc., (CCPI) is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization. based in New York City. CCPI is dedicated to providing humanitarian and medical aid to the three to four million children the United Nations recognizes as suffering from the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. CCPI is the U.S. affiliate of the Chernobyl Children’s Project Ireland and was created in an effort to bring additional U.S. resources to the children affected by Chernobyl. These aid programs aim to increase self-sufficiency and permanent change in the region. Through partnerships with governmental agencies and medical facilities in the region, CCPI encourages joint solutions and permanent solutions to better serve these children. For more information, visit

Kathy Ryan
Chernobyl Children's Project International