Race hate nail bar owner Asta Samaliute to open next week as £7k raised
A young woman whose nail salon was destroyed in a racially-motivated arson attack hopes to be back in business next week.
Asta Samaliute said she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received and is determined to come back stronger.
A fundraising page set up in the wake of Monday night's blaze to help Asta get back on her feet took in more than £7,000 within 24 hours of going live.
Offers of help and support have also flooded in from the east Belfast community.
"It's amazing - I am so, so overwhelmed and glad to have so many people behind me," Asta said. "Whenever I went into my salon and saw it all burnt up I didn't think this was going to happen.
"But now I definitely think there is a way back and I know that it will be okay.
"We will come back stronger."
Asta, who is originally from Lithuania, moved to Northern Ireland six years ago.
She spent more than two years building up her business, Asta's Glam Factory, and had only moved to premises at Castlereagh Street two weeks ago.
Her salon employs two Lithuanian women and another two from Belfast.
However, it was extensively damaged after being set alight shortly before midnight on Monday. Police are treating it as a racially-motivated attack.
Yesterday, Asta said she was looking forward to getting back to work soon. "I hope to be up and running on Monday, but at a different location if we can get somewhere sorted out," she said.
"It is hard at the moment but I know we will get through it."
On Tuesday evening, more than 100 people attended a rally in east Belfast to support Asta.
She has also received messages of support from all over the world.
"I really didn't expect to get so much support," she added. "It is from all over the world.
"I was reading the comments from people who donated and it is not just Belfast people, it is from all over. It is just amazing.
"I cannot believe it."
Asta, who is due to marry her fiance Ben Grigisas in four months, said she is determined to stay in Northern Ireland.
"There are good people and bad people, but this shows there are more good people," she said.
"I still think this is a nice place to live and I am going to stay here.
"I'm not going anywhere."
Online messages of support to Asta included:
"We want to see you succeed and to see that most Northern Irish people appreciate people coming to our country to make it their home. Please know you are welcome."
"Thanks to people like Asta for bringing employment and creativity to our communities. This city is for everyone."