Claire Stratton and Juliet Stoker (both nee Sparkes) and one trustee born in Ceylon and they have a deep affection for the island and its people.
Following the tsunami in December 2004, the Sparkes family raised funds to build a home for girls in Kallar on the east coast of Sri Lanka.
The land is on a compound owned by the Methodist Church with whom we have created an excellent partnership for the running of Kallar and three further homes.
The girls are looked after by two house mothers, a cook and a watchman/caretaker under the supervision of the local Minister and a committee of elected members from the village.
The girls all attend the local schools which are within walking distance of the homes. In the homes we provide extra tuition and IT equipment and sewing machines.
It is our mission to extend our English tuition so that all girls are proficient in the language.
We also assist the girls with university and tertiary education.
It would be extremely rare for girls of their background to achieve tertiary education and so we are very proud of four girls of the original intake who have now graduated, and we are thrilled by the continued flow of the girls to university.
In 2012 the Methodist Church asked us to support three other girls homes.
Kalmunai is 10 miles south of Kallar, Tummodara is on the west coast approximately 20 miles north of the international airport and Hatton is in the heart of the tea country.
The buildings in both Hatton and Tummodara were in a very poor state and thanks to generous support from private donations we were able to carry out urgent repairs.
We also support Silver Bells, a nursery school in a poor, rural area in the East. The children are given a smart uniform and they receive an excellent education and lunch every day.
Our homes are neither orphanages nor boarding schools. They are safe homes for girls during their primary and secondary education. Our charity has earned an esteemed reputation with the local authorities. We also support the Angulana Day Care Centre, South of Colombo. This is a purpose built hall within the Methodist Church compound. It caters for pre-school children, all day, and older children after school. The local community is largely made up of very poor fishermen and their wives, who largely work in domestic service. The Trustees visit the homes several times a year and liaise closely with the Methodist HQ in Colombo.
The COVID pandemic has impacted Sir Lanka as a whole however the homes have done their best to work within the restrictions and continued with online education when schools were closed during extended lockdowns.
In normal circumstances the Trustees aim to visit the homes regularly and liaise closely with the Methodist HQ in Colombo. We have excellent relations with the Childrens’ Department of the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka and are always impressed with the transparency of their procedures. These trips are entirely self funded. The next Trustees visit will be in February 2022.
Fund raising takes various different forms and we use this money for building works and other projects to improve the Homes. Friends of Sparkes Homes raise funds from taking part in marathons, cycle rides, triathlons and other sporting events. Group events include the London Treasure Hunt, quiz nights and the enormously popular and successful Call My Wine Bluff. We hosted the second Wine Bluff in April 2018 and raised over £26,000 with thanks to all participants and donors to the Auction.
The only funds which do not reach Sri Lanka are bank and Just Giving charges, and the occasional web site cost. Trustees bear all their own costs when visiting Sri Lanka and the homes.
We pride ourselves on having almost NO administration costs.