Villagers fund orphanage for tsunami victims

A COUPLE have rallied villagers around Biddisham together to raise over £16,000 to build an orphange for Sri Lankan children - in just 10 months. Mike and Jill Pharo of Coombes Way, Biddisham regularly went to Sri Lanka for holidays but after the Boxing D

A COUPLE have rallied villagers around Biddisham together to raise over £16,000 to build an orphange for Sri Lankan children - in just 10 months.Mike and Jill Pharo of Coombes Way, Biddisham regularly went to Sri Lanka for holidays but after the Boxing Day Tsunami tragedy, which killed thousands of people in South East Asia in 2004, the couple decided to help the surviving victims.Their fund-raising plight started by sending over some money which helped to feed around 300 Sri Lankans for nearly three weeks. Then they wanted to concentrate on one area in Sri Lanka to help and they opted to improve the Joseph Vas Children's Home, which was originally a small bungalow home to 60 child orphans.They set aside a target of £16,000 in March 2005 to rebuild the existing care home with better facilities and more space.Money was raised through a range of community ideas including garage sales, car boots and raffles. The parish of Crook Peak gave Mike and Jill its full backing helping with funding ideas and getting more people involved and the couple decided to name it The Crook Peak Project.Mike and Jill and the project's treasurer Dave McClean, toured all over Somerset including Axbridge, Cheddar and Worle, to women's institutes and other groups giving talks on the tsunami disaster and how people could help with fund-raising.Mike said: "We wanted to give something back that would have a direct effect on the Sri Lankan victims and the orphanage seemed a perfect project. Children in the existing care home were sleeping on the floor but with our fund-raising we have been able to provide bunk beds for nearly 70 kids, toilets on two huge floors."While Mike and Jill carried on fund-raising back home, Sri-Lankan volunteers helped to build the orphanage and now it is complete the couple are planning to visit the project this month. They are planning to have a party and a barbecue for all the orphans and volunteers.Mike said: "Food is very sparse over there, we've lots of food to take over. The project has been great fun and thanks to everyone who got involved.


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