Nicole's Blog

Tea Leaf Trust: First Words in Sri Lanka

We start with our first word. Sometimes it is Mommy or Daddy, other times it is yes or no. But this is where it starts. From our first word we start to build a vocabulary of hundreds of thousands of words, until we begin to build a world through language. It is estimated that the human brain can hold 10^15 bits (in computer language) of information.

And yet, when we lack basic skills, like the ability to communicate with others, it cuts us off from the very thing we crave the most: to connect. And in the case of those who lack recourse, it mitigates the ability to establish the factors of basic sustenance. This is why I truly believe in Givology’s mission: to help students learn skills such as English.

Students who want to learn face many challenges though. At our Sri Lankan partner, Tea Leaf Trust, over 80 percent of the students supported by this NGO live on less than 1USD a day –the UN’s indicator of extreme poverty. Beyond steady income, this particular province of Sri Lanka faces many challenges such as a male alcoholism rate at 85% and a female domestic violence rate of 83%. Young people, usually women, are married at young ages, which is often reflected in self-harm and suicide. In addition, children usually do not have access to qualified teachers, income for class fees, or even transportation to schools.

These factors that perpetuate cycles of destitution can stop now. Tea Leaf Trust has formed the Central Education Project to teach students English in rural tea communities. English skills provide an opportunity for students to find employment away from the labor of the tea plantations. In turn, this empowers students and allows them to shape their own lives. It also reduces the chance that they will follow the destructive paths of those around them.

Teal Leaf Trust students

The Community Education Project will train 18-24 year old men and women English. In turn, these students will act as student teachers to children monitored by the Tea Leaf Trust staff team. 800 children from 8-11 years old will receive free English education at 9 different locations in 2012. Thus far, 79 student teachers have already finished their training and CEP already has 706 students enrolled in its program. 60 percent of these students have gone on to find full-time employment.

I believe these statistics hold a lot of weight moving forward. I cannot wait to see students putting sentence together and sounding out their words like l-e-a-r-n and r-e-a-d. My hope is that these students will continue be a part of rewriting the statistics that the Tea Leaf Trust project has so gracefully done. This November, Givology will be holding an event to support Tea Leaf Trust on Saturday, November 12th in Manhattan. To find more information about the
event visit Tea Leaf Trust Event and to learn more about the project click here: Tea Leaf Trust

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