NINE homes for abused and neglected children exist in northern region of Alicante province and you won’t have heard of them.
That is except for one British-run charity on the Costa Blanca fundraising for these homes – a charity which last month celebrated its 11th anniversary.
The Make a Smile association has tirelessly donated everything from school supplies to sweets and lemonade for the 98 children that reside incognito in these government-funded safe houses for their own safety.
“We help kids from very hostile backgrounds,” Tony Grande, who runs the Bed Centre in Calpe with wife Lucy, told the Olive Press.
“A lot of their parents are drug addicts and have rented their children – as young as 10 – out to mates for sexual gratification.
“The kids are removed via court order and must be kept safe.
“Their parents might have lost income and won’t think twice about pimping their children out again.”
Tony said his charity steps in to provide extras and excursions for the children – many of whom have severed contact with their families.
Make A Smile has raised over €500,000 in its 11 years to improve their lives from hard cash donations and also funds brought in by the Amigos de Make a Smile charity shop in Teulada.
The funds – which may not be directly donated – have also purchased extra items not provided by law, such as birthday presents and trips to Aqualandia, and gone to completely refurbishing two homes.
“The emotional rejection a lot of these kids feel has an effect,” Tony added.
“And then at age 18 the law says they are adults and are catapulted out onto the streets to fend for themselves.
“We do our best to keep contact after they leave and help however we can.”
Tony said he knows at least ‘two’ of former girls now ‘out on the roadside’ working as prostitutes.
However, such stories contrast with the countless children Make a Smile has encouraged to seek higher education, marriage and start their own families.
“This work takes a lot out of you, but once you’ve met these kids you can’t turn your back on them,” Tony said.
Please visit the Make a Smile website here.
The Amigos de Make a Smile charity shop can be found on Avinguda del Mediterrani, 2, 03725 Teulada, Alicante.