Two little girls from Andersonstown in west Belfast have made a fantastic gesture of generosity as famine continues to threaten millions in east Africa. Tiarna (8) and Orla (6) O’Neill, pupils at St. Oliver Plunketts PS, recently decided that they wanted to do something to help children in the poorest parts of the world and so after Tiarna made her First Communion they each wrote a letter to parish priest of St. Oliver Plunkett’s, Fr. Martin Magill.
“I was standing outside the Church after Mass when the two girls came up to me and gave me a letter each,” said Fr. Magill. “When I opened the letters each had money inside which the girls wanted to go to help poor children overseas. I was really touched that such young children would think of doing this without prompting. When Trócaire launched an appeal for east Africa I immediately thought it would be perfect to donate the girls money to that.”
The girls mum, Bernice, said that she had no idea what they were planning. “The two of them were sitting at the kitchen table scribbling away before Mass. They were being very secretive which isn’t like them. It was only after Mass that I discovered what they had done. Tiarna gave some of her First Communion money and Orla gave money she had saved. I am really really proud of them.”
The two sisters didn’t stop there. Bernice said they were very affected by the pictures they saw on television of the suffering in east Africa. “The two of them cried when they saw the kids in Africa and what they were going through so they decided to try to get some more money together.”
“We sold some of our toys to get more money,” said Tiarna. “It’s not fair that we have so much and the children on tv have nothing.”
“I had lots of toys so only picked out my favourite two dolls and two cuddly toys to keep,” Orla said.
Trócaire’s regional manager, Eithne McNulty, says the two sisters are inspirational. “The situation in east Africa is horrendous and in the worst famine-hit areas around half a million children under the age of five are at risk of starvation in the coming days. The people of Belfast have already been amazingly generous and I know they will continue to donate to our emergency appeal. I think Tiarna and Orla have set an example that governments could do well to follow otherwise millions of people could die in east Africa in the coming months. They are two very special little girls.”
You can click here if you'd like to donate to the appeal or call 0800 912 1200 (1850 408 408 in ROI). People can also text a donation in NI (up to £10) by texting TROC22 followed by the amount to 70070.