This project will save lives. Keeping our centres open means we can protect and further improve the positive mental health of 350 students. They will learn the skills to support thousands of people from their tea estate communities who live in cramp conditions, with little access to resources during this terrible pandemic. Tea Leaf Trust is a critical part of the community providing consistent support, to the children of women who pick your tea.
Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. Young people from the tea estates are one of the most at-risk groups in the country. 12 years of experience tell us that of every 20 of our students, 16 have an alcoholic in their house. 17 of them will experience their mother being abused within the home. Add to this financial pressures that see over 80% of our students live off less than $1 a day and jobs are rare due to structural racism and this was before COVID!
Our programmes are designed to achieve two main outcomes. Firstly, to equip them with relevant vocational skills to turn them into confident, self-assured proficient young individuals ready for higher education or the Sri Lankan job market. Secondly, provide them with critical emotional and mental health coping mechanisms to help them overcome the issues of alcoholism, domestic violence and sexual abuse prevalent on tea estates, rather than turning to self-harm, or in the worst case suicide.
And it's worked! Over the last 12 years, over 82% of Tea Leaf Vision alumni have been employed by a number of wide-ranging, high-profile employers or offered places in University or other specialist training. Most importantly, we have seen a sharp rate of decline in suicide amongst our alumni. As a result, our programmes are always oversubscribed, with many young people seeing it as a way to holistically improve themselves and support their families.