The Tea Leaf Trust focuses on improving education and employment opportunities so that the children of Sri Lanka have a choice about how to support themselves and their families in their communities.
However, 8 years on the Tea Leaf Trust are acutely aware that not only does the lack of quality education keep these young people down, but their living conditions, health issues, their emotional states as a result of gender inequality, substance abuse and poverty, all feed into their ability to feel that they are valued members of Sri Lankan society with much to contribute.
Gender empowerment is a focus for us in the next three years. With an average of 65% of our students being female and with 83% of female tea pickers facing domestic violence, we have a lot to do to ensure we offer the right kind and right level of support to both our female and our male students.
It is our responsibility to ensure that what we offer at Tea Leaf Trust is relevant and can help our students progress and support their families in the future. So, we have an employment team who work to identify job, internship, training and educational opportunities for our graduates.
One of our key aims is to help our students become ‘Change Agents’ within their communities. For them to do this, we educate them in how to identify need, how to work to address the need, and the fact that it feels good to do good. Even though around 80% of our students live off less than $1 a day, our students understand that there is always someone worse off, and that it is for all of us to form our community safety net.
Tea Leaf Trust embeds emotional health lessons throughout terms two and three of our main diploma. Offering support and education on the most commonly identified issues, such as suicide, anger management and self-harm, Tea Leaf Trust works to help students not only develop coping mechanisms for themselves, but also identify the signs of when someone they know is struggling.
Our free, full-time main diploma course is our pride and joy, helping the 18 to 24-year-old children of the tea estates of Sri Lanka. The course is open to anyone who is unemployed and living in the estates or towns of the tea plantation area. Fourteen of our sixteen staff are graduates of the main diploma and nine of our teachers live on tea estates. This gives them incredible empathy and understanding. This in turn gives them the ability to develop and nurture the students throughout the year.