24 Apr 14
The last week has seen Munster fans 'face-off' literally in a quest to win a trip to Marseille for Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon.
"Before last Tuesday, I know life was already really rough for the kids growing up in Haiti. There's nearly five million children living there - half of them have never seen inside a classroom. Nearly all of them would see clean drinking water as a total luxury and far too many of them witness violence and suffer abuse on a daily basis.
"The one thing that amazes me in the short time I've been working with UNICEF is how resilient the kids you meet are.
"Last summer, at the end of the Lions tour, I was privileged to meet children in South Africa with UNICEF. They were children who fled from Zimbabwe and were now living in horrific conditions in Johannesburg. Forty of them sleeping cramped together in a room in a church, with one bathroom between them. Their joy at being lucky enough just to get the chance to go to school every day and play sports on a Saturday is something I will never forget.
No matter what tragedy and suffering they've been through, they try to stay strong and hold onto their hopes and dreams for the future. When you talk with them, they tell you that when they grow up they want to become doctors, lawyers, tachers.
"I know the kids in Haiti are the same. Mia Farrow another UNICEF Ambassador visited Haiti recently and said that the children faced the harsh reality of their lives with indomitable optimism and spirit. Last Tuesday in a few short moments, thousands of young lives were lost and for those that survived - well, I'm just finding it difficult to think of what they're facing now.
"Of the three million people they think are affected in Haiti by the earthquake, half of those are kids. I wonder how many of these children are now waking up every day - having lost their parents or their brothers and sisters. I wonder how many of them are hoping that their parents are still alive, even though they haven't seen them since last Tuesday afternoon … Watching the TV, I wondered how many of the kids I see - still covered in dirt and cement dust - are hungry because they haven't eaten in days and don't know where their next meal is coming from ?
"We shouldn't feel powerless - there is something we can do to help these kids. UNICEF is there for the children of Haiti - they've been there for years and they will be there for as long as it takes to save and rebuild these children's lives.
"I've met UNICEF staff - they are incredible. They really care about the kids and I know they are working around the clock right now in Haiti to do everything possible to save the lives of children and families, and they will continue to do so in the months and years ahead.
"But they cannot do it alone. They need your help. And they need it now."
To make a donation to UNICEF Ireland's Emergency Appeal for the Children of Haiti, please call 01 - 878 3000 or visit www.unicef.ie