Tea Leaf Trust classroom refurbishment

The Tea Leaf Trust was created as a UK-based charity in April 2008 after a young English Rotarian, Tim Pare; and his Sri Lankan wife returned from honeymoon in Sri Lanka. They had been dismayed at the appalling conditions on the tea plantations. They realised that to escape the circle of poverty and deprivation, young people needed a much better education.
In January 2009, Tim and his wife moved to Sri Lanka to set up an education programme in Basic English. In the first year over 800 people benefited from the course.
Since then the charity has set up and runs a 12-month Diploma course in which students study English Grammar and Speech, basic business skills, Information Technology, Success and Ethics and Emotional Health all conducted in English. Over 170 students now complete this Diploma every year.
The free full time course is offered to single and unemployed 18 to 24 year olds. The students come from every culture and religion and throughout the year special activities are held to develop their self confidence, promote peace building and ethnic cohesion as well as provide support for the young people living in the midst of complex societal issues that include a high level of alcoholism and violence against women.
In December 2013, Seaford Rotary Club made a grant of £500 to support the Tea Leaf Trust which was doubled to £1000 by a matching grant from the local Rotary District organisation.
Finding suitable places to run this Diploma course has however always been a struggle. In 2015 a Sri Lankan family donated a building to Tea Leaf Trust which would make an ideal school with 8 classrooms but the building needed significant improvement.
Following a presentation by Tim Pare to Seaford Rotary in March 2015 (see, in August that year the Club was pleased to continue supporting Tea Leaf Trust and made a further £700 donation towards the complete renovation of one of the classrooms in the Trust’s recently acquired building. This involved glazing of the window openings, plastering and painting of walls, and upgrading the electrical systems to make them safe.
The photographs show the new classroom being used for the first time.
The Rotary Logo and sign over the classroom door was painted by a student from a very deprived family and who were paid enough money to cover their bus fare for a month - it is not perfect quality, but the Trust tries try to make use of any and every opportunity to support the development of the community.
The target of the school is the transformational development of the communities from the bottom up through the young people, as they are the future of Sri Lanka and the key generation after the end of the civil war.
The school promotes the core principles of life such as love, service, honesty, and loyalty, placing strong emphasis on serving the less fortunate in their own communities. The young people have been engaged in many activities during the year aimed at making them “agents of change” within their communities. Instilled with an understanding of the importance of being proactive and the concept of service, these “Change Agents” have already made a huge impact on the communities where they live.
In addition to the above service, and “in return” for a free place on the course, all students give their time to the Community English Programme. The basic premise of this programme is that the students are trained to run Basic English classes for children from Grade 4 and Grade 6 (Grade 5 were not involved due to scholarship classes). In 2015, the Community English Programme had run classes at 26 government schools with 2066 certificates being awarded at the completion of the course.
Tea Leaf Vision is a unique project that has had proven success at transforming the attitudes and skill sets of the young men and women of the tea estates. The dual targets of developing professional skills and creating “Change Agents” continue to be a hugely successful model under very challenging social and environmental circumstances.

posted: Tuesday, 22 March 2016

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