Belarus: Irina Grushevaya

We must not forget Chernobyl; Chernobyl is never and nowhere to happen again!

— Irina Grushevaya

Irina Grushevaya (born 1948), a professor of German linguistics, has dedicated the past 16 years of her life to humanitarian causes. As president of the International Association of Humanitarian Cooperation, she works tirelessly to improve the lives of children (and adults) who are affected by the disaster of Chernobyl. She has enabled more than 150,000 children to be sent abroad for a holiday trip. Other focuses of her work are women's rights and security. She organizes exchanges between youth of the East and the West, and she is the center of a network of like-minded people.

The nuclear explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986 turned Irina Grushevaya's whole life upside down. Since the regime had for years been concealing the real extent of the disaster, it was not until 1989, when her own children were showing signs of illness, that Irina, shocked by the deceit, took her family's and other people's destiny into her own hands. Irina, together with her husband, initiated the first civil non-governmental association – the Chernobyl Charity, which was intended to expose the massive cover-up around the Chernobyl disaster and to form self-assistance groups in the affected areas. Day by day, Irina persistently exposed the truth of Chernobyl to multitudes of people far and wide. She organized actions of protests and support groups, becoming a prime link between East and West. In the course of 15 years of hard toil, Irina Grushevaya has created an extensive network of humanitarian cooperation, becoming an envoy of peace and a guardian of civil rights and the rights of children. In the course of all these hectic years, she has been initiating programs, projects, and organizing mass actions. Thanks to her commitment to the cause of truth, people worldwide are aware of the children of Chernobyl and the austere environment in which they live in Belarus. Despite repression, intimidation, and threats to her life, Irina extends her helping hand to victims of political and social persecution in her homeland – termed as the last dictatorship in Europe – who have become objects of human trafficking and violence. Though Irina calls her appeals to the public “hope in the land of hopelessness,” she firmly stands for peaceful means as the only option in addressing a hopeless situation.

International Association for Humanitarian Cooperation (IAHC)