Ramesh - Graduate, Finance Officer and full of hop
I have just come back from three weeks in the tea estates of Sri Lanka. The country is in political and economic turmoil. The most stark example of how this plays out for the poorest communities is that of a good old egg.
Now, when I was living in SL in 2019, one egg cost about Rs 12 /-. Now it costs around Rs 50 /-. More than this though, most of the eggs I ate within the tea estate areas had no yolk... eggs look weird without yolks, but the reason is that the normal chicken food is now too expensive and the cheap version does not have enough protein for the chickens to produce normal eggs. So the impact on the poor is that they pay around 4 x the price for their egg, but it does not have the health value that it should have, meaning their families have less money and still don't get the nourishment they need.
In my 15-year relationship with the country, I have never known life be as tough as it is in Sri Lanka right now. Hope is more important than ever... and that is what our centres bring, thank you for your support and kindness.
According to the stats and focus groups, 16 out of 20 students in our classrooms will live with an alcoholic, 17 out of 20 will witness or experience domestic violence and young people from the tea estates are some of the most likely in the country to commit suicide. 95% of our students live off less than $1 a day. In 'normal' times, we have comparable rates of attendance to colleges in the UK (over 90%) despite 15% of our students travelling more than 6 hours a day to access our programme. Our usual drop-out rate is less than 7%, miraculous compared to government training programmes.
What's the special ingredient? Well, kindness and optimism are pretty important, but hope is the one. Hope and knowledge that what they are learning is relevant to both their professional and personal lives, their skills and their emotional health and resilience. We replace the poverty of hope, with the feeling that they can build successful lives and lift their families out of extreme poverty.
This year, with the economic crisis leading to spiralling costs, it is tougher than it ever has been and we want to support each of our students with a small stipend each month to allow them to attend as well as eat. If you can, please sponsor a student until Dec 2022: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-a-student-strengthen-a-community/
Meet Ramesh (photo attached), one of our graduates... now one of our Finance Officers and full of hope. Sorry about the poor quality photo, but what a smile!