Looking for a Different Kind of Holiday Experience? Tim Pare OO (1985-1992) can offer a life-changing experience in Sri Lanka. After his own experiences out there in 2007, Tim and his wife have set up a charity to help the tea pickers.
In November 2007, Old Oswestrian Tim Pare (’85 – ’92) and his wife Yasmene Shah visited Sri Lanka for their honeymoon in what would become a life-changing experience. During the trip they spent a night in the tea plantation area of Nuwara Eliya and were appalled by the working conditions and the poverty of those picking the tea that this major Sri Lankan export industry was based on.
In January 2008, after returning to the UK, Tim and Yasmene established the Tea Leaf Trust and became a registered charity a couple of months later (no: 1123427). The rest of the year was spent raising money to start a vocational training centre for the children of tea pickers so that they might have the opportunity to break the cycle.
Fast forward to 2012 and you will find the couple in the heart of the Sri Lankan tea country working with young people from over 30 different tea estates as well as neighbouring villages and farming communities. With 80% of the students in the school living off under $1 a day and a raft of social issues such as 85% of male alcoholism on tea estates, 83% domestic violence against tea picking women and an extremely high level of self-harm and suicide amongst the youth, the project has become crucial to the hopes of these communities.
The centre has two main aims: to develop the employability of the young people through professional English, I.T. and Business (key to any reasonable job); and the development of students to become ‘Change Agents’ in their own communities through acts of service, leadership and being positive role models for future generations. This secondary focus has been amazing in its impact with students actively seeking to teach the children in their communities and solve some of the issues they have lived with for their entire lives.
In 2011 alone saw Tea Leaf Vision support 4,175 children, young people and community members through its projects and the overall number of beneficiaries since the project started is estimated to be over 8,500. Graduates are now working for nationally recognised companies with over 80% of graduates finding better employment within the first 6 months of leaving the diploma course.
Come and lend a hand and have the holiday of a lifetime! How about volunteering at an educational development project in the beautiful tea estates of Sri Lanka?
If you want to feel better about yourself… help someone else.