Shaper: Rob Forkan

Show aired on 13th December 2014

Transcript

Rob Forkan

Rob and Paul’s parents, Kevin and Sandra Forkan, were compassionate, adventurous and generous people. As keen travellers themselves they wanted to raise their children with a deep understanding of the world. In order to expose their children to other cultures and see what life was like for children in other countries, Kevin and Sandra came up with a plan for their family to travel the world together. So in 2001 they took their children out of the traditional education system in England and enrolled their children in the school of life.

Kevin and Sandra had no exact plan of where the family would go or the duration in each place but they knew they wanted to work on humanitarian projects across India and the Sub Continent. Each family member packed one backpack and did away with any remaining possessions. They sold the family home that they had lived in for 20 years and in an instant swapped their normal, comfortable life in Croydon, South London for the uncertainties of the open road and an adventure of a lifetime.

Their first stop was India. After they had arrived the family quickly settled into their new lifestyle and began to soak up the country’s rich, vibrant culture. Kevin and Sandra regularly approached local charities and the family did lots of voluntary work from handing out food and medicine to organising sports days at children’s homes.

After a year in India the family said goodbye to the new friends they had made and bid farewell to the first country on their journey. Despite being sad to leave the communities they had become a part of they were also excited about their next destination, Sri Lanka. Little did they know that this trip was going to change their lives forever.

On Boxing Day morning the tsunami hit the coastline. Tragically, that morning would be the last time they saw their parents.

Fortunately, the Forkan children had support from family and friends, unlike so many of the orphans they had met on their travels. It was a long road to recovery but Rob and Paul finished their education, got jobs in London and saved up enough money to continue the journey that their parents had started. They put their flip flops back on and spent several years roaming the globe. They explored many countries including Laos, Bali, Fiji, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, America, New Zealand and of course returned to their favourite place, India.

Rob and Paul were determined to try to find a positive end to the tragedy they experienced in 2004. They wanted to do something that would honour the spirit of their parents and would also give themselves peace of mind in the process.

They wanted to help people in the developing countries they had visited. Specifically, they wanted to focus on children less fortunate than themselves like the ones they had played with when they were younger.

One morning at a festival with friends, Rob woke up with “a mouth like Gandhi’s Flip Flop.” And just like that, an unusual source of inspiration became the foundation for a business.
Rob and Paul recently returned to Sri Lanka for the first time since the tsunami in order to visit the various projects and children’s homes that The Gandys Foundation is supporting through EMERGE. Prime Minister David Cameron stopped by the projects and publicly showed his support for Gandys and the Orphans for Orphans mission.

The next step in the journey is to head back to Sri Lanka, where it all started, and where hopefully a new chapter will begin with the building of Gandys’ first children’s home. This is now in progress with the land secured just outside Colombo where our first children’s home will be built to mark this monumental occasion of the 10th Year Anniversary of the Tsunami.

Orphans for Orphans:

The brothers wanted to create a brand that represented the philanthropic values their parents had instilled in them and having spent years travelling the world in flip flops, a flip flop company seemed like the perfect tool. They decided that they would found the company on a commitment to using a percentage of profits to support disadvantaged children.

The Gandys Foundation is the registered charity of Gandys, and was set up in the Summer of 2013 following an overwhelming response from people asking how they could help.

10% of all Gandys profits go directly into The Gandys Foundation, whose sole purpose is to support children in need of basic essentials such as nutrition, medication, education and a safe place to live.

This is the “Orphans for Orphans” mission.

Still in its early stages The Gandys Foundation has already funded a teacher and school supplies for 100 children at Mango Tree, a children’s charity in Goa India as well as supporting EMERGE, an organisation in Colombo Sri Lanka supporting young girls in need of a safe place to live and teaching them business and life skills needed for self sufficiency.

The Gandys brothers personally ensure that all of the operational costs of the foundation are covered, so that every single pound donated goes directly towards the projects.

The fundamental goal of The Gandys Foundation and the “Orphans for Orphans” mission is to support the many underprivileged and disaster children who have no access to the most basic of sanitation, clean drinking water, medical supplies, shelter and education. Following their own experience Rob and Paul wanted to do what they could to help less fortunate children grow up with a standard of care that everyone deserves. The “Orphans for Orphans” mission is very close to their hearts and it is the driving force behind Gandys.

Follow Rob on Twitter @Gandysflipflops

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“…we were caught up in the Tsunami in which we tragically lost our parents and since then myself and my brother have spent years trying to rebuild our lives.”

“…we were always taught that there are kids in a worse situation than us, and to make the most out of life…”

“Every day we are learning and trying to push ourselves and we are constantly out of our comfort zone.”

“We spent years travelling in flip flops, it was very much part of our DNA.”

“We’ve got a collaboration with London Zoo this week and they’ve said we can use London Zoo for a party and we are going to put animal prints on the products…”

“I’d heard people say ‘I’ve got a mouth as dry as Gandy’s flip flops’ over the years, and it just kept bugging me..”

“…just seeing people wear our product, and inspired by what we do. That’s the real buzz…”

“We get emails in all the time, social media messages where students are studying what we are doing, the model we are trying to create….”

“By no means have we changed the world, or are saying that we can change the world. We’re just trying to do what we can, and that’s what we are passionate about, and we will just keep working towards it.”