Friday, May 16, 2008

Children of Chernobyl Latest Rescue Flight


Academy Award Winning Actor, Jon Voight, traveled halfway around the world, ten hours into the future, and over the roofs of many of our homes to meet Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl’s 80th Rescue Mission on the tarmac of Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.

On Monday evening, May 12, 2008, Voight welcomed thirty-six children from Belarus, Ukraine, and Western Russia, escorting the first young child—a seven-year-old girl—down the steps of the airplane.

“It is truly an amazing experience to see these children—these beautiful children—who we talk about year after year at the Children at Heart dinner disembark the plane,” Voight said. “All of our hard work, our fundraisers, and our efforts pay off when you see the hope restored in a young child’s eyes.”

Eighty children previously evacuated from the Chernobyl region by CCOC, members of the New York CCOC office, and generous CCOC donors joined Jon at the airport to celebrate this momentous flight.

“I am excited to see my friend from home,” a teenage girl said as the flight landed. “I know that Israel will make her feel better. Israel made my headaches go away. But, really, I am most excited to see everybody from the flight—because I know that they will soon be my friends, too, and their pain will go away.”

The children celebrated their arrival with friends and family members they had not seen in months. A woman from Ukraine was reunited with her daughter who had been rescued on CCOC Rescue Flight # 79. Everybody around the mother and daughter watched their reunion in tears of happiness—they remained in each other’s arms for the remainder of the welcoming.

Young boys were lifted into the air and danced around on the shoulders of the teenage boys and young men who came to welcome the flight. Jon was swept up into the celebration as well and the young children laughed in awe as they saw him bouncing around the airport on the shoulders of a young man rescued on a past CCOC flight—a flight that Jon himself helped make possible.

The evening was packed with celebration, high energy, and excitement. Optimism, hope, and opportunity could be felt in the air—but the physical pain in the children could clearly be seen as well. The children have been settled in their new homes in Kfar Chabad and have already started their medical treatment and their roads to recovery.

Jon joined the CCOC executives in Kfar Chabad Thursday afternoon, May 15, 2008, to visit with the 36 children who just arrived on Monday, children from previous CCOC flights, and alumni of the CCOC program. Jon has been in Israel all week as the spokesman for CCOC and has dedicated his entire visit in the country to helping children, listening to their stories, and giving them strength. Please visit our website to read a full account of Jon’s visit and view the photographs from his stay. We will be in touch by email when the account is posted. Thank you for making this rescue flight possible. As Jon said in Hebrew from the tarmac in Ben Gurion Airport… “Atem Giborai”… You Are Heroes.

Have fun! I always do!


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