Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena family moving to Philippines to help Typhoon Haiyan victims

Businessman, wife and kids on a mercy mission to typhoon-hit land

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

A father is moving his young family to the disaster-struck Philippines to help the country's stricken children.

Alan Kirk is renting his Antrim home out and turning his back on his business in order to help youngsters in the country devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

The 36-year-old is taking wife Rachel (33) and their two sons, Benjamin (6) and Joshua (1).

The Philippines was struck by the huge tropical storm three weeks ago.

Millions of people were affected, including hundreds of thousands who have been forced from their homes. The death toll currently stands at more than 5,000 and is predicted to climb further.

Despite the conditions, Mr Kirk, from Ballymena, said he has no concerns with taking his young family to help the country, and had been planning to go out anyway. They will be working hands-on to help young people suffering from a wide range of ailments and injuries.

"I got a lot of phone calls from people asking if we were still going," he said.

"We were actually more determined to go. In fact, if we could of went sooner we would have.

"It will be a big change and it is a big sacrifice for us as a family to go and do this but we know it's the right thing to do. We have strong Christian beliefs, so we aren't one bit concerned."

The couple will be staying with charity Helping Hands, Healing Hearts Ministries, headed up by Moira woman Claire Henderson.

The Kirks will be helping out in children's recovery units as well as carrying out missionary work.

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on November 8 bringing torrential rain, sustained winds of over 195mph and a storm surge of up to 30 feet that devastated coastal areas.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening this week toured areas hit by the typhoon.

She said the humanitarian efforts of the UK's armed forces and her department were already making a difference.

Six new British aid flights carrying more than 1,400 tents and other supplies are touching down in the Philippines this week.

The UK Government has contributed £55m to relief.

QUOTES

"We had decided to go just before the typhoon. Rachel mentioned it but I didn't think it was practical. When you see the children over there it's heartbreaking, horrendous. Then I thought: 'What's six months of your life to help others?' I just thought it was something we had to do."

Alan Kirk on bringing his family to the Phillipines to carry out aid work

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