2011 has been a very busy and productive year at the Sparkes Home: it is going from strength to strength.
As you can see from the photos, we have a wonderful and happy group of girls in Kallar. A few new girls arrived at the home this year and they have settled extremely well. The Trustees work closely with the local social services department who are impressed with our organisation and management.
The girls are improving academically all the time. Ad we employ extra- curricular teachers in the Home most evenings, teaching Maths, Science, English and ICT. In the end of term exams in July, 19 girls achieved over 75% in one or more subject. 7 girls will take their O level exams in December 2011 and they all hope to go on to study A levels at the same school. We have 7 girls studying A levels at present and the 4 second year A level girls (aged 18) will take their exams in August 2012. In Sri Lanka students have to wait until December for their A level results. Our 4 girls have asked if they can remain in the Home until December 2012 and enrol in an intensive English and ICT course run by the local YMCA. After that they would like to go on to university or vocational courses. This year we are seeking finances to establish a scholarship fund to support our school leavers.
The new extension to the Home was completed in January and a new kitchen area completed in May. The extension houses a dining room/study area and 2 bedrooms for the older girls.
Several trustees have visited Kallar this year. On each occasion they met with the President of the Methodist Church in Colombo. Claire and Peter Stratton, with Australian sponsors Helen and Daniel Gauchat visited in February. They inspected the new extension, attended the opening ceremony, and bought new school shoes for all the girls. Juliet and Alistair Stoker visited in April. Edward Stratton visited in May and approved the new kitchen building. Juliet Stoker visited again in October with Jenny Blake. They stayed for a week and apart from teaching, dealt with day to day maintenance and met local officials.
There have been a number of volunteers from the UK this year and their work and contribution has been invaluable. Thank you so much to all our visitors. The girls in the Home benefit so much from getting to know and learn from friends outside Sri Lanka and their English is improving. In January, Sarah Cripps and Sophie Butler arrived in Kallar at the start of their Gap year. The following month Alicia Gibson and Rosie French worked in the Home. These Gap year girls taught English as well as helping with art work and they were very much part of the home: playing games, singing, helping with excursions and homework. In March Hannah Lowes and Tom Gotelee did an amazing job educating the girls on rubbish clearance and disposal (there is no rubbish collection in Kallar!). They also taught English and helped with general maintenance. In June Ljuba Novkovic came to Kallar on her way back from travelling in the Far East. Not only did she teach English but also managed to teach some yoga and martial arts as well! We are keen to increase the number of female visitors for short stays of up to two weeks – no age criteria!
The home relies totally on the very generous contributions from our sponsors and donors and we thank you very much for all your support. In addition, we have had several fund-raising events this year.
We would particularly like to thank:-
The Falcons Prep School for their continual fund-raising with a sponsored fun run, the committee of the London Treasure Hunt for their event in August and the girls at Woldingham School. We would also like to give special thanks to Stephen Milner who has donated a substantial amount to SHSL in memory of his wife, Carolyne Stanforth. The extension is dedicated to her memory.
Finally, every visitor comments on the warmth and vibrancy in the Home. It is a very caring community where the girls give tremendous support to each other and welcome outsiders.