Park Grove Methodist Church
The Joe Homan Charity
... Bringing Hope and Opportunity
The charity was founded by Joe Homan, a Catholic missionary who was a Member of the de la Salle Christian Brothers. He studied at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, after being brought up on the family farm in the Fenlands. His parents were Dutch farmers and came to England in 1934. Joe helped his large family in the market garden before going back to teach at his old school. He then transferred to Pakistan for a year and moved to South India to pioneer a new Christian Brothers Boys Town.
Unhappy with teaching Christianity to Hindu boys he returned to England in 1964, left the religious order, raised £200, and returned to India to build his first Boys Town on an acre of barren waste land in Tirumangalam, near the temple city of Madurai.
In ten years he established 11 boy’s towns, a girls’ town and other projects in Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Alongside this he pioneered in India a rural development programme. He was especially proud of his Child Labour Prevention project which helped 15,000 poverty stricken youngsters to exchange child labour for 5 years of secondary education, leading to better employment for them and their families.
In the first 20 years Boys Towns specialised in farm training; in later years industry took over and brighter students embarked on vocational training. In the last 20 years the focus has switched to ensuring boys and girls receive good quality education. In fact the organisation Joe founded has recently opened an English medium Matriculation school in purpose built premises for over 300 children.
With the aid of a generous supporter, Terry Duffy, the Nampong, Khon Kaen, Boys Town in Thailand was opened in 1989. The Thailand Boystown is now administered by the Youth Development Committee in Khon Kaen.
In his later life Joe opened the Perumparai Environmental Centre, up in the Palani hills, to promote awareness of global warming and environmental issues.
He received an honorary MA from Warwick University in 1990, a Paul Harris award from Rotary International and later a civic reception from the city of Peterborough. He died in Tirumangalam in India in 2016 aged 85.
The original name of the charity Joe Homan founded was the International Boys Town Trust (IBTT), based in Peterborough, and this was the main fundraising organisation for the Boys Town Society (BTS), the NGO he founded in India. After a disagreement between Joe and the Trustees of IBTT in 1990 he started a new charity - the Joe Homan Charity (JHC) - and continued his support of BTS in India. IBTT continued as an international charity working mainly in South America and Africa and is still based in Peterborough as the International Children’s Trust (ICT).
In later years Trustees of JHC decided to support additional Indian NGO’s working with the poorest children in areas of Tamil Nadu and set up the JHC (India) office in Dindigul. The JHC (India) office works directly to our UK HQ, looking after sponsorship details and local liaison with our partner NGO’s as well as coordinating our Volunteer programme.
CULTURE AND ORGANISATION
The charity has always relied on personal advocacy for raising funds and a strong bond exists between donors and the children they support.
Most of the total funding raised comes from hundreds of sponsors in many parts of the UK. Support groups exist in Coventry and Warwick and the Oxford area while small clusters of friends in many other parts of the country raise money by holding coffee mornings and curry suppers. Several supporters raise money by running in marathons - or even more extreme events!
Supporters are encouraged to become Members of the charity and meet each year at the AGM. Members become a source of future Trustees. The charity office manager coordinates the production of Nandri, the newsletter which goes out to all supporters.
JHC has small overheads (about 22% of income) and runs both the UK office and JHC (India) with a minimum of paid staff. Volunteers therefore become a crucial part of the organisation.
Volunteers who work in India or Thailand are responsible for writing child profiles and reports on individual projects. Some trained teachers volunteer at the Francois Meyer Matriculation School, on the Tirumangalam campus, or help children practise their English in the residential projects. Volunteers range from University gap year students to retired supporters. They are accommodated in the office in Dindigul or in the Guesthouse run by BTS in Tirumangalam.
Many Volunteers end up as sponsors, supporters, members or trustees.
History and Culture of the Joe Homan Charity