IMPACT

Brothers Who Lost Parents In Tsunami Are Now Supporting Orphans In Need

Rob and Paul Forkan were vacationing in Sri Lanka with their family for Christmas when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck.
Brothers Rob (L) and Paul Forkan, creators of Gandys flip-flops, pose for a photograph at their offices in London December 19
Brothers Rob (L) and Paul Forkan, creators of Gandys flip-flops, pose for a photograph at their offices in London December 19, 2014.

LONDON, Oct 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nearly 12 years after British brothers Rob and Paul Forkan survived the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed their parents, they have combined charity work with travel and fashion to open a store in London to help fund two overseas children’s homes. 

The brothers were in Sri Lanka with their family for Christmas when the tsunami struck in December 2004, ripping through coastal communities in 14 countries, killing 230,000 people and sweeping away their parents.

When a wall of water crashed onto the shore, Rob and Paul stayed together, clinging to trees. They eventually found younger siblings Matt and Rosie and managed to get back to Britain where they were cared for by one of their elder sisters.

Realising how lucky they were to survive and to have family to help them, the brothers’ desire to give back inspired them to set up

Gandys, an ethical footwear company making colourful flip flops from natural materials, in 2011.

Flip Flops made by sandal-making firm Gandys Flip Flops are pictured in south west London on December 17, 2014.
Flip Flops made by sandal-making firm Gandys Flip Flops are pictured in south west London on December 17, 2014.

The company opened its first store in London’s Spitalfields Market on Wednesday, expanding its range from flip flops to clothing and travel accessories.

The profits from Gandys have helped fund projects including a centre for orphans near the Sri Lankan capital Colombo that the Gandy Foundation opened in 2014 and the brothers now aim to open a children’s home in Malawi.

“Mum and Dad would be happy to see the store and all that we’ve done and how far we’ve brought it with the children’s homes because that’s what they were passionate about,” Rob told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“They were also into fashion, so all we’re doing are things that they would have been proud of.”

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