Memorial service planned for Joe Homan who set up homes for children in India and other parts of Asia

Tributes have been paid to a charity pioneer who helped thousands of children across Asia.

Sunday, 24th April 2016, 2:00 pm
Joe in India

Joe Homan died aged 85 in India earlier this month - after setting up a network of villages for needy children in the Asian country.

Mr Homan, who lived in All Saints Road in Peterborough as a youngster, devoted his life to helping others , and spent very little time in the UK, concentrating on his charity efforts abroad for much of the year, having set up the Joe Homan Charity.

Mr Homan set up his charity after being shocked by suffering endured by children he saw on a trip to India in 1965, and quit his job as a teacher.

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Joe at one of the projects

He moved to Madurai in southern India, where he set up a poultry farm in which the children he saw begging and dying on the streets could work.

The charity has since created a number of homes and projects in India and Thailand, and the charity says that more than 18,000 youngsters have been helped since the first scheme was started more than 50 years ago.

Joe was one of 12 siblings, and one of his sisters, Margaret Cianni, said: “As a child he was very interested in nature - he was always lifting up paving slabs to see ants building their homes.

“He held Christian beliefs, and wanted to teach children regardless of their religion. He wanted to give people who would not normally have had the chance of an education an education.

Joe at one of the projects

“He enjoyed life. He looked after his sisters, and was a good, protective brother.

“He always knew what he wanted, and would not accept anything else.

“Second best was not good enough. He would always stick with a project through thick and thin.

“He spent more time in India, and would only come back for a few weeks at a time. During those weeks he would spend a lot of time giving talks about the work he was doing.

“We went out to see him in India last month.”

Jon Crouch, from the charity, said Joe’s work would continue following the sad news of his death.

Mr Crouch said: “Joe has made such a big impact on so many people’s lives over the years.

“The charity has grown year by year. Joe was the honorary president and founder, and did so much for children in India.

“He was dedicated to carrying out the work with the Boys Towns throughout his life.

“We will be continuing to support those people in Asia into the future.

“As a charity we will be having a book of remembrance for Joe, as well as a memorial service.

“A lot of people will have known him, and there will be an awful lot of people with stories who want to remember him.

“We have already had many people getting in touch to pay tribute to him, from across the country.”

A memorial service honouring Joe’s life will take place at The Sacred Heart & Saint Oswald’s Parish Church in Lincoln Road at 1pm on Wednesday, April 27.

Joe’s autobiography, Miles o’Smiles, is available to buy on Amazon.

For more information about the Joe Homan Charity visit

‘I wanted to do something more’

Joe Homan started the charity in 1965, having been to India to carry out voluntary work - but was shocked into action after seeing children begging and dying on the streets

Speaking to The Peterborough Telegraph in 2005, 40 years later, he said: “I did some volunteer work in the early ‘60s in India and decided to see if I could do something more.

“I gave up my job as a teacher in Ipswich and moved to India, where I bought a patch of land for £200.

“With the help of some homeless boys from the nearby city, we built some mud huts and poultry sheds. “Within a year it was a thriving chicken farm, and over the years we’ve expanded into farming and also built residential homes for the children.

“We now have 11 residential homes in India and one in Thailand, which look after about 4,000 children in total.”

Today there are seven residential homes for boys aged 11-18 in South India and one in Thailand, each housing 70 youngsters.

There are also another five similar projects for girls and younger children.

Joe died at his home in India on March 30.