Two British orphans of Sri Lanka 2004 tsunami tragedy bring new hope to kindred spirits
When Rob and Paul Forkan’s parents died in the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka, they were aged just 17 and 15.
They survived the terrible experience in part because of the resilience and fortitude instilled in them during the family’s four years travelling the world.
And from that tragedy was born a burning desire to give something back, to do something to help other orphaned children.
The result is the Orphans for Orphans children’s home Rob and Paul created in Sri Lanka, which includes academic support, woodwork lessons and various sports activities.
It not only helps youth development in the community, it ensures that children are safely occupied in after school—and parents also have a chance to learn English and Maths.
They did it by creating Gandys, a travel kit and clothing store in London, their home town, which finances their determination “to do more in life than just exist”.
Gandys is now a platform for Rob and Paul to bring to life their mission of helping underprivileged children and to creatively express their experiences of travelling the world.
The new year is off to a flying start already, with the Duke of Cambridge seen proudly donning the Gandys flag during his recent Royal tour of Scandinavia.
The full story of tragedy and redemption is told in their book Tsunami Kids, “a heartbreaking, engaging but ultimately uplifting journey from the streets of Sri Lanka to the boardrooms of London, Downing Street and beyond as told by two inspirational survivors”.
Says the Luise Reviews website: “Where Tsunami Kids really works is with its post-tsunami story of how the children (particularly Rob) fare once home in England and the story of how Rob and Paul form the social enterprise Gandy’s Flip-Flops is fascinating.
“The tsunami has a deep impact on the family and how the children’s lives develop (including the older children who weren’t in Sri Lanka at the time) but it doesn’t destroy their lives.
“The focus on family life before and after the tsunami really does make it a well-rounded tale and helps the reader to really understand the impact on the family of the lose of their parents and how their upbringing helped them to cope with that loss.”
Read more here.