The charity was established as a living memorial to Michael Sparkes, who lived and worked as a tea planter in Sri Lanka for 25 years, and Jonny Sparkes, who tragically died in 2000 from a rare and incurable genetic lung condition The family established tea plantations in the mid 19th century and have a long association with Sri Lanka. Following the tsunami in December 2004 the Sparkes family raised funds to build a new home for Girls in Kallar on the north east coast of Sri Lanka. The land was donated by the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka with whom we have created a partnership for the running and administration of this and further homes. Over recent years we have established strong links with the Methodist organisation and support their efforts to help disadvantaged children throughout Sri Lanka. The Methodists’ major international sponsor withdrew funding for residential homes at the end of 2012, as a result of which , we have offered our funding support for three existing homes, in addition to Kallar. We are now caring for over 120 girls in Sri Lanka.
The Sparkes Home Kallar –Our original Home houses girls ranging from 6 to 18 years old . The initial group of girls were either orphans or children of destitute families arising from the devastation following the tsunami and recent civil war. Since then, girls are being referred to the home both through the Church and the local government social services , who are impressed by the safe and caring environment at Sparkes Home Kallar. The girls are looked after by two house mothers, a cook and watchman /caretaker under the supervision of the local Minister and his committee of elected members from the village. Finances are handled centrally from the Methodist Church headquarters in Colombo. The girls all attend the local school which is within walking distance. In the home we provide extra English, maths and IT tuition and we have provided computers and sewing machines.
Kalmunai – is only 10 miles south of Kallar and has 35 girls in residence. The girls go to school locally and benefit from extra tuition in the home after school. The trustees are impressed by the warden and her staff and The home is on a large site close to the town centre.
Tummodara – is on the west coast, approximately 20 miles north of the International airport. It is one of the oldest homes run by the Methodist church and houses 25 girls.
Hatton – is in the heart of the Tea country. A very generous private donation enabled us to carry out urgent and crucial repairs to the fabric of the building which now houses 28 girls.
All of our homes offer the girls warm and loving environments. Once the girls have completed their education , it is our ambition to make sure they have the means to earn their own living. Four of our eldest girls have now completed their A levels and we are now funding vocational courses and their further education, including university. We are very grateful to a US family trust who have provided specific funding for further education and university. Volunteers from the UK visit the homes and provide support to the house mother, English teaching to the girls and also maintenance of the homes. Furthermore, visitors have been hugely impressed by the atmosphere and support the girls give to each other.
The homes are fully dependent on our funding and it costs just over £1 a day to support each child.
The charity is administered by UK-based trustees, three of whom spent a wonderful childhood in Sri Lanka. The trustees maintain close contact with Methodist headquarters in Colombo and with the homes. The trustees visit at least twice a year at their own expense.