Tsunami orphans thank NI for help

Published Wednesday, 19 September 2012
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Thai children orphaned by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami have paid a visit to Northern Ireland to say thank you for the region's support.

The children are cared for back in their native Phuket at an orphanage established by Co Antrim man Willie Greg.

He created Willie's Orphan Fund after watching TV footage of the tsunami unfold.

The Portrush man fundraises throughout Northern Ireland in order to help as many children as possible get a good start in life.

Thailand was one of the Indian Ocean countries worst hit when the undersea earthquake struck just over seven years ago.

Willie said of the quake: "It took about 12-13 minutes to obliterate that coastline and everything on it, in it - and everything that lived upon it was gone.

"I made my mind up that I was going to do something."

Over 500 children have passed through the orphanage since it opened its doors.

Five children paid a visit to Belfast Institute on Wednesday to tell their story and treat their hosts to a display of traditional Thai dance.

Willie said continued fundraising is vital to run the orphanage.

He explained: "Education is free in Thailand - as long as you can afford to go to school.

"So, if you're an orphan you can't afford to go to school.

"They would be illiterate which would mean they wouldn't have much of a future.

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"They wouldn't have very much if it wasn't for the people of Northern Ireland."
© UTV News
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