Belfast Telegraph

Golf star Rory McIlroy lends a helping hand in Haiti

Haiti children touch Rory's heart on first trip as Unicef ambassador

His hands have earned him millions and now international golf star Rory McIlroy has used them to show Haitian children at risk from cholera a priceless skill: how hand washing can save their lives.

The golfer - ranked seventh in the world - is in Haiti as part of his first official field visit since he was named Unicef Ireland ambassador in March.

Rory (22), from Holywood in Co Down, has been visiting camps, schools and hospitals in the country that was devastated by an earthquake in January last year which left hundreds of thousands dead and nearly a million homeless.

He told how the children in Haiti amazed him by being so happy despite losing their homes and family members in the disaster.

"Nothing could prepare me for meeting the children in Haiti and I am truly amazed by how happy they are," Rory said.

"As this was my first visit, getting to find out more about Unicef's work and meeting with Unicef staff in areas such as health, water and education has been very important."

The golf pro said the trip had been an eye-opening experience.

"The everyday things that we take for granted at home in Ireland are so longed for in Haiti," he said.

"I hope my visit will bring much-needed awareness and funds for Unicef for children not only in Haiti but across the world."

He also visited a Unicef-supported school, where he experienced some of the work Unicef is doing to prevent cholera.

Children as young as three showed him how they wash their hands properly to help prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

McIlroy also visited a school that was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake and a health and nutrition centre in Saint Elizabeth.

He then visited Tabarre, where he spent the afternoon playing with nearly 200 children in the Unicef-supported 'child-friendly space' in the town.

Factfile

The Haitian authorities believe more than 300,000 people died in the 2010 earthquake that devastated their country.

Haiti, one of the poorest nations on earth, has yet to recover, with political instability and disease rife.

Officials fear the hurricane season could exacerbate a cholera outbreak that has already killed 5,000 people.

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