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Stars praise aid work of tragic Haiti hero

A HEROIC Irishman's death in the Haitian earthquake has led to poverty-stricken youngsters getting a chance of a good education.

As the family of Andrew Grene endure their first Christmas without him, a charitable foundation in his memory is helping young people fulfill his dream of more educational opportunities for the poorest of the poor.

Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon both spoke about Andrew for a Haitian earthquake fundraiser. Their words are now helping The Andrew Grene Foundation.

Andrew's brother Nicholas told the Herald he did not realise his sheer bravery until after he was killed.

"Andrew would travel in bulletproof jeeps in Haiti with other United Nations peacekeepers and there would be bullets flying," said Nicholas, a professor of English at Trinity College in Dublin.

Andrew and his twin brother Gregory spent much of their childhood in Ireland, attending a national school in Belturbet, Co Cavan, where their Dublin-born father David bought a farm. Andrew is buried in Annagh churchyard in Co Cavan.

Andrew, a 44-year-old father of three, was a senior member of a United Nations aid mission in Haiti seeking to restore order and combat poverty. He and UN colleagues were killed in the earthquake that devastated the country in January.

His widow Jennifer, a native of Co Down, his daughter Rosamund (14) and sons Alex and Patrick, both college students, have gathered at their family home in New York. Their Christmas is mixed with sadness and pride.

They are heartened by support for The Andrew Grene Foundation, which is funding educational scholarships for impoverished young Haitians through the website www.andrewgrene.org.

The website carries a video of Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood speaking at a Hope For Haiti fundraising telethon.

Matt Damon said Andrew was in Haiti "for all the right reasons -- to bring peace to a people who longed for it".

He said the Irish-American UN worker "lived by a creed that everyone deserves the same chances to succeed in life".

Clint Eastwood said Andrew gave his life along with his colleagues in the destroyed UN headquarters "doing the work they loved".

At his funeral, Rev Steve Clark paid tribute to Andrew's "stunningly beautiful life" and that he died giving his life to others.