BROTHERS David and Paul Lees responded to the human catastrophe in earthquake-hit Haiti by deciding to set up a small business selling T-shirts and donating a quarter of all profits to a relief agency.
Unfortunately for David, 23, the planned launch of Disaster Wear coincided with a disaster of his own when he ended up in hospital suffering from a broken jaw after being attacked.
The Manchester University graduate had gone to the aid of a young woman in distress and was beaten by a group of men. His injuries were such that he needed an operation to repair his jaw at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
David said: “It was terrible at the time but I’m fine now. What’s more important is that we’ve started selling the T-shirts and we want to get as much help as we can for the people in Haiti.
“We’ve set ourselves a target to sell 10,000 T-shirts this year so that we can go out to Haiti in November and build a toilet and shower block for a local school. Most of the children who go to the school have no toilet or showers at home.
“Our website is still a few weeks away from being completed, but we’re selling through Facebook.”
David was inspired to set up Disaster Wear after being an aid volunteer in Haiti, where an earthquake killed 200,000 people back in January 2010, leaving 800,000 homeless and living in temporary shelters.
The business uses fairly-traded, organic cottons and has a range of men’s T-shirts bearing a logo of concentric circles in colours representing disasters through fire, war and water. T-shirts sell for between £25 and £35.
By raising funds themselves, the brothers say they will be able to directly support small aid charities in Haiti – and ultimately in other disaster areas.
“The problem with giving money to a big charity is that you don’t know what happens to it,’’ said David. “Our money will go to a good cause and we will be able to document and prove it.”
David, who has a degree in American Studies and Business, was moved by the stoicism and cheerfulness of the Haitian people during his time working with the American-based Grass Roots United Scheme and came home determined to do something to help.
At the moment he is running Disaster Wear from his parents’ home in Barkisland. The company’s autumn/winter range will include T-shirts for women.
For details of the brothers’ enterprise, check out Disaster Wear on Facebook or contact them at email@example.com