ESTEPONA resident, mother and grandmother Joy Butler Markham has devoted her life to helping children in Sri Lanka following the Tsunami that created so many orphans.
Having spent a number of years running her own company in the UK, Joy became involved in raising funds for children with Cerebral Palsy and when offered €100,000 to set up her own charity, Joy didn’t need to think for too long before creating the Manacare Foundation in 1994.
The original purpose of the charity was to help children in danger and distress around the world and this continues to the present day but following the 2004 tsunami and with her mother living in Sri Lanka, she decided to create a village in that country to look after a number of orphans.
With help from a fund raising dinner hosted by Sandro Morelli of Villa Tiberio in Marbella, she was given sufficient money to purchase 2.3 acres of land and with support from members of her church, the Evangelical Church of Marbella, she was able to raise additional funds to complete the building and start what is planned to be a self-sufficient community known as Hopes and Dreams Village.
When asked if she is a missionary in the old fashioned sense, Joy told RTN “Gosh, a missionary … I guess I am now. First and Foremost I am a Christian and I like to be able to help those in need, my need to help doesn’t come from my head, it really does come from my heart and I feel so deeply for those in war torn countries, those with disabilities, orphans, refugees, the homeless.
“I do think that the sick should be the responsibility of the Governments concerned … having said that there was an occasion when I had to take a small orphan to a hospital in Sierra Leone and I even had to buy sheets for his bed!”
She went on to explain “I would like to stress that there are no posh offices, no company cars, no expensive board room lunches. I do not receive a salary, what is given gets directly to those in need, and only those who need help receive a salary, albeit very small, but sufficient for them to keep their families.”
Hopes and Dreams
When Joy first arrived in Sri Lanka following the destruction of whole communities, she saw that there were plenty of international charities building houses but understood that what was also needed was small industry, jobs and medical services as well as care for the very young.
This then became her mission and in Sri Lanka they make soap, candles, and have a sewing workshop. The local girls are trained and at first the idea was to set them up in their homes to continue to work but they wanted to continue to work within the Manacare community and even petitioned Joy to have a second floor with a flat roof built on the property in case of new floods.
The running of the village costs around €3,000 a month and apart from the sale of locally made produce, most of the funds are raised from donations made by generous members of the congregation of her church as well as a small number of sponsors from Sir Lanka and the UK.
Publicity is the lifeblood for the charity which still cares for an increasing number of children which is why they were so pleased when both actress Gillian Anderson and Sir Cliff Richard visited the village to show their support as press coverage helps to encourage donations.
Having lived in El Paraiso, Estepona for 37 years, Joy shares her time between Spain and Sri Lanka and has just returned to the Hopes and Dreams Village laden down with supplies and expects to be in residence there for several months.
The constant fear of tragedy surrounds her and only a few days ago, torrential rains struck the island killing 151 and displacing 100,000 people so she knew it was time to get back to the village to see what she could do to help.
This worthwhile charity is making a real difference to the lives of the young, the disabled and the dispossessed helping to keep them healthy and paying some a small amount of money to allow them independence.
Can you help?
Unlike some of the large international charities, Manacare isn’t asking for large amounts of money but welcomes donations and sponsorship for any amount, no matter how small, so if any reader wishes to help please visit www.manacare.org.uk to learn more.