It became so much more than just a bus

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About Tea Leaf Vision

Throughout 2015, Melissa Day aimed to raise £12K to buy a second-hand school bus for Tea Leaf Vision, a project run under charity Tea Leaf Trust which is close to her heart. The centre provides free, life changing education programmes to youth of the poorest tea estate communities in Sri Lanka. They support the empowerment of youth to become “Change Agents” – role models active in social service.

Tea Leaf Vision’s ethos of giving back to the tea plantation community is to train students to give a basic English programmes to 7 – 12 year olds once a week at remote primary schools serving tea estates. The students go out to teach during terms 2 and 3. The course has been designed to instil in students the importance of community service and to boost their confidence whilst simultaneously providing free English lessons to hundreds of children who would not otherwise have access to English classes.

Melissa was originally adopted as a baby from Sri Lanka and was reunited with her brothers Ashok and Arun recently. She saw that survival on the tea plantation and work prospects other than working on the plantation were extremely difficult. Melissa wanted to help both of her brothers in some way. After speaking with Tim Pare, founder of Tea Leaf Vision about her brothers, he accepted both on their English Diploma Programme. To show her gratitude and to support Tea Leaf Vision, she decided to fundraise to buy the centre a 52 seat second-hand school bus to transport the students safely.

·         In May 2016, Melissa reached just over $10,000 and was made aware of Rotary Internationals Global Grant scheme and an application was made.

·         A large percentage of fundraising support up until the point of becoming aware of the scheme came through local Rotary Clubs who not only supported the project financially but also attended many of her Sri Lankan themed fundraising events too.

·         Through this period, Melissa gained the encouragement and support from household names such as Sarah Brown, wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and comedian Romesh Ranganathan.

·         Due to the initial sum raised, Melissa was shortlisted for “Women of the Future Awards 2016”.

·         Through Rotary Internationals Global Grant scheme, the initial amount raised has allowed the sum of money to be leveraged to $76,000 through the coordination of The Rotary Clubs of Margate and Colombo.

Summary

The vision of a second-hand 52 seat bus expanded into something so much more. The fee will cover the cost of a brand new mobile library, maintenance of the bus and the training for and salary of the bus driver and the salary of 3 members of teaching staff for 1 year. It will be a safe and affordable means for Tea Leaf Vision students to attend their classes and will be a little mobile sanctuary for education for the wider community on the tea plantations.

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