Filling The Shoes of Your Parents
Rob and Paul Forkan, who lost their parents in 2004 tsunami, created a footwear brand that devotes 10% of shoe profits to helping orphans. Gandys was set up less than two years ago by two brothers, Rob and Paul Forkan, in their one-bedroom flat in London. Rob and Paul, 26 and 24, spent years travelling the world, volunteering and working. Here is their story.
Paul and I are about to return to Sri Lanka, the place where we lost our parents. We have decided to write a blog about this experience, because a lot of people have told our story, but we haven’t yet told our story. We want to tell this part of the story
Writing this blog has been very challenging for us as it stirs up a complete mix of emotions. I have already written this first entry many times, only to delete it and start writing it again… Today, we are going back to Sri Lanka, a country that took everything from us upon our last visit. This is going to be one of the toughest things we have ever done, but it will also be one of the most rewarding as from our darkest moments, there is now some light.
When we were younger, Paul and I were fortunate enough to travel around the sub continent, volunteering and enjoying new cultures. We were given a truly unique education that gave us an appreciation for other cultures and an awareness of how people around the world lived. Unfortunately, during our travels we were in Sri Lanka when the Boxing Day tsunami happened. That day changed our lives forever. Tragically we lost our parents and then had to find our own way home along with our younger brother and sister. After all the devastation and being left with nothing, we somehow found the strength to get home, using all the lessons we had learnt from our alternative upbringing.
Even then, straight after such devastating tragedy, moments of generosity deeply touched us. A memory that stands out for us was the unity shown by all the local people. After losing so much, local Sri Lankans were helping Western people and fellow Sri Lankans. No matter what your religion or ethnicity was, people just wanted to help.
In particular there was a local boy who had lost everything, including his mother, who decided to help us. We remember him saying that he had nothing left so he wanted to help us. This selflessness and courage deserves our deep gratitude, but we also want to honour his bravery by trying to make a difference in the lives of others.
We were fortunate enough to return to family and friends who helped us to rebuild our lives. Since then we have been searching to do something that allows us to continue with our travels and use all the important lessons that we have already learnt. Almost two years ago, we came up with the idea of a flip flop brand that would help children around the world.
We are returning to Sri Lanka to go on a trip with Peter Simon, the inspiring founder of Monsoon & Accessorize. Peter was born in Sri Lanka and started his business from humble beginnings on a market stall at Portobello market. Peter now supports projects around the world through Monsoon and is a dedicated philanthropist. We believe that Peter shares our ethical values so when he approached us about a collaboration between Accessorize and Gandys we jumped at the chance. This is the first collaboration Accessorize has done in 30 years with another brand and through this global distribution agreement we will provide an education for over a thousand children in the next three years. We are looking forward to seeing the positive impact that this partnership will have on the lives of many children.
Nine years ago when we were travelling home from Sri Lanka, we didn’t have any shoes on our feet. Now, we are returning to Sri Lanka not only with shoes on our own feet, but with a flip flop brand and a global partnership that will help thousands of children have a brighter future.
Life can be what you choose to make of it, but we now live by a simple rule – Explore & Inspire
Rob & Paul
Follow them on their journey at https://www.facebook.com/gandysflipflops!
*Images courtesy of Gandys Flip Flops
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