Thomas Barnardo was an Irish philanthropist, who helped improve the lives of thousands of poor children. Today the foundation set up by him in 1860 to help the homeless and poor children has taken in more than 60,000 children. Read on for some moving information and facts about Thomas Barnardo.
Barnardo was born in Ireland on July 4, 1845. He died at the age of 60 years in 1905. He was the son of John Michaelis Barnardo who was a furrier. Barnardo belonged to a Spanish Protestant family that had migrated from Hamburg to Ireland.
He denounced his medical studies
While he was pursuing his medical studies, he was greatly moved by the number of homeless children in England. This influenced him to dedicate his life towards improving the lifestyle of those homeless children. He became the superintendent of a ragged school free of charge in London and dedicated himself to taking care of poor children in the school.
He wanted to be a doctor in China
In 1862, Thomas Barnardo converted to evangelical christianity and used to work in the slums of Dublin. It was in 1866, when he wanted to become a doctor and went to London to pursue his dream. However, he never became a doctor because he left his medical studies to devote himself for upliftment of the poor children.
First ragged home in 1870
During his time at the medical school in London, a ten-year-old boy Jim Jarvis showed to him the state of abandoned poor and and homeless children in the city. Jim shared his own life’s experiences with Thomas which left a great impact on him. This led him start his first ragged home in 1870 for boys which was later also opened for girls.
The East End Juvenile Mission
He founded the East End Juvenile Mission in East End, London in 1868. In 1870, he also created ‘homes of Dr. Barnardo’ for the needy children. To establish this, the Earl of Shaftesbury gave him financial support.
People’s Mission Church
Barnardo bought Edinburgh Castle in 1872 and converted into People’s Mission Church. The church was an important place for evangelism.
He determined to never send a child away due to lack of space
A boy that sought admission at one of Barnardo’s homes was returned due to lack of space. The little boy was found dead two days later. This moved Barnardo and he vowed to never to return a child. He said, “No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission”
More philanthropic activities
He wrote a book explaining the stones turned in his life with the book named, ‘How It All Happened’ in 1872. He opened a ‘girls’ city’ with sixty five small houses which could house over thousand girls. This land also had a hospital and many other facilities within itself. He opened as many as 95 homes that housed over 8,000 children before he died in 1905.
His daughter had Down’s Syndrome
Barnardo married Syrie with whom he had seven children. One of his daughters, Marjorie was born with the Down’s Syndrome. His relation with her made him more devoted towards helping disabled children.