The Rosie May Home, which opened in Sri Lanka five years ago with just five orphaned children, is now home to a ‘family’ of 20 bright and happy girls, aged four to 18, who are benefiting from Rosie May’s living legacy.
The home, which is fully funded by the Rosie May Memorial Fund, nurtures each of the children as individuals, teaches them essential life skills and helps them to progress academically and to develop into independent young women.
The Rosie May girls, as they call themselves, are educated in local schools and taught English through the Rosie May Home’s volunteer programme.
Educational resources have continued to grow and there now there are plans to build a classroom onto the Rosie May Home to provide space for extra tuition the girls receive in English, maths and science.
The Rosie May Memorial Fund - a registered UK charity - was formed in January 2004 in response to overwhelming donations from the public following Rosie May’s murder. Immediate funds went to the Sheffield Paediatric Intensive Care Unit which cared for the Bottesford girl during the last 48 hours of her life.
In December 2004 Rosie May’s parents Mary and Graham decided Christmas at home would be unbearable without their daughter so they decided to escape with their two sons, Luke and Laurence, from the horrific recollections of the year before.
On Christmas Day in South East Asia a tiny palm tree was planted by Rosie May’s family in memory of their beautiful little girl.
The next day their paradise island in the Indian Ocean was engulfed by the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
Mary said: “We were told we were ‘lucky’ to escape unharmed, however we knew Rosie May was watching over us and had kept us safe. Miraculously the little palm tree stood untouched, perfect, as debris swirled around it.
“We were humbled by the bravery of the Sri Lankan people. The enormity of death, devastation and destruction touched everyone’s lives.
“Our personal experience of witnessing this tragedy inspired the Rosie May Home for tsunami orphans and abandoned girls”.
Five years on and so much has been achieved, with the inspirational efforts of volunteers, fundraisers and all those who have generously donated helping to transform the Rosie May girls’ lives.
The Storries last visited the Rosie May Home in July. Mary said: “As always we were amazed to see the remarkable progress of the girls, not only academically but importantly in their own self confidence. Their willingness, enthusiasm and confidence in spoken English is improving rapidly.
“It’s pretty mindblowing looking back over the last 10 years and what has been achieved.
“It has definitely given us a positive focus and has really been the difference between us coming together as a family and maybe not.
“It’s taken 10 years but I do feel I’m only just beginning to be able to remember Rosie May for the beautiful and gifted child she was, rather than the manner of how she died.
“Next year she would have been 21 and on May 4 we’re holding a birthday ball fundraiser in a sparkling marquee on the stunning Belvoir Castle Estate.”
Mary added: “The Rosie May Home is forever. We’re committed to a lifetime of sustaining the home so as many vulnerable young girls as possible will benefit from Rosie May’s living legacy.”
Rosie May’s brothers, Luke, 25, and Laurence, 22, are trustees of the charity which is funded entirely from public donations.
Among this year’s amazing fund-raising efforts was a second annual trek across the Sahara Desert.
Team members, who returned from their trek in late September, have so far raised more than £21,000 to be split between the Rosie May Home and the Sheffield Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Mary said: “I can remember when we raised our first £1,000 and we said then wouldn’t it be amazing if we could raise £10,000 - £1,000 for every year of Rosie May’s life.
“Now we’re nearly at the half a million pounds mark and we’re so grateful to everyone for their support.”
To post your candlelight photos in memory of Rosie May, between Saturday and Monday, visit www.rosie-may.com and click on the link to visit the Facebook page.
For more about the fund, the Rosie May Home, other projects and how you can get involved visit www.rosie-may.com
A volunteer and information day will be held at Bottesford Baptist Church, Queen Street, Bottesford, on Saturday, January 11, starting at 9.30am. An afternoon session for potential volunteers will be from 1pm-4pm. Limited places are available. To reserve a place email your CV and letter of application to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone with queries can e-mail email@example.com