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Raising funds through the simple tea leaf

Tea Leaf Vision, empowering young people through education

Throughout 2015, I am aiming to raise £12,000.00. to buy a second-hand school bus for Tea Leaf Vision, a project run under charity Tea Leaf Trust which is close to my heart. Tea Leaf Vision Centre for Professional Development in Maskeliya, Sri Lanka, provides free, life changing education programmes to youth of the poorest tea estate communities in Sri Lanka. Tea Leaf Vision supports the empowerment of youth to become “Change Agents” – role models active in social service.

Tea Leaf Vision’s beneficiaries (79%) live off less than $1 USA dollar a day (below the UN poverty band). In 2006, the Government placed 1,500 non-qualified teachers in tea estate schools where parents are almost entirely uneducated and not in a position to challenge bad practice. That is why this free education programme which also provides links to employment is critical in the plantation area.

Unfortunately, due to families placing such pressure on children to pass exams (as they see it as a way out of poverty), when it comes to taking their A ‘levels, they inevitably fail because the schools are not staffed by qualified teachers (there are some qualified teachers and the school head teachers are qualified but the majority of teachers are unqualified). This sadly leads to children doing self harm and also there is shockingly, attempted suicide and suicide among children. In fact, the tea plantation area in Sri Lanka is known at the "fourth hotspot" in the world for suicide.

Personal Reason

There’s a very personal reason why I want to support this charity because had I not been adopted as a baby and brought to the UK, I would be one of those workers struggling with backbreaking work to survive on less than $1 dollar a day.

Growing up in East Anglia gave me one of the greatest gifts you can give a child - education - which enabled me to a get a degree and follow my chosen career path.

The only keepsake I had of my birth mother was a photograph, which was taken at a convent in Sri Lanka. 

I’d always wondered about who she was but tracing her across two continents seemed an impossible dream - until a friend who was visiting on holiday said he’d look up the convent as a favour.

He took the photograph and 5 days later I had a phone call with the news that I never dared hope that I would ever receive... After an incredible series of co-incidences, he’d not only found my mother, who had treasured that same photograph of me for 25 years but also discovered I had two full brothers and a grandmother living on a Tea Plantation.

1 month later I travelled to Sri Lanka to see them. Meeting them was probably the most incredible day of my life and I keep in regular contact by phone.

However, it was heartbreaking to see their poverty and how lack of education, not just for my brothers but other children on the estate, imprisons generation after generation into a lifestyle from which there’s no escape.

Tim Pare, founder of Tea Leaf Vision, has accepted both of my younger brothers onto their English Diploma Programme. To show my gratitude and to support Tea Leaf Vision, I have decided to fundraise throughout 2015, to buy the centre a 52 seat second-hand school bus to transport the students safely.

To support Melissa in her fundraising visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Melissa-Day

Melissa Day
About the Author

Melissa Day

Melissa Day is owner of Niroshini Cosmetic Acupuncture, gifted holistic facialist, and experienced complementary therapist, healer and Reiki practitioner

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