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Picture of the week: Public support moves Asta to tears

By Helen Carson

Published 18/04/2015

Our picture of the week
Our picture of the week

More than £8,600 was raised in just three days for the 24-year-old Lithuanian woman, Asta Samaliute, whose nail bar was burnt to the ground in a racist attack this week. Asta's Glam Bar, in east Belfast, was the target for arsonists in an attack which left the newly fitted-out salon gutted and the business owner shocked and distraught.

But the local community has rallied to offer support and financial aid to help the young business owner get back on her feet again.

More than 500 people donated a total of £8,605 over a three-day period, with pledges ranging from a fiver to £50, with some generously giving £200 to a page set up to finance the rebuilding of the nail bar in Castlereagh Street.

The giving page, as well as Asta's personal and business Facebook pages, have been inundated with messages of goodwill for her from all over the world, encouraging the young woman to stay in Northern Ireland and rebuild her business.

A rally held outside the torched salon was attended by 100 people. Local people turned out to show Asta the majority of locals are on her side and want to help her rebuild her business.

An emotional Asta, supported by her fiance Ben Grigisas, said she was determined to "stay strong" in a bid to get the salon up-and-running again.

The young couple have had to postpone their summer wedding plans in the Greek islands following the attack. But Asta says she won't be driven out of the country she now thinks of as home. "I always felt really accepted here, like this was my home," she said. "And if anyone would ask me would you go home, I always said no, because this was my home. And I just cannot believe what happened to me. I don't feel like I want to move. I feel really, really supported."

She moved into the premises just a matter of weeks ago, adding she felt her "whole world crashing down" when she saw the devastation at the salon following the arson attack.

Belfast Telegraph

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