Nimesha has lived her entire life on a tea plantation outside of Maskeliya. When Nimesha was a young girl, her mother left for a housekeeping job in Saudi Arabia, and gave the parenting duties of her and her two brothers to her father. Her father was a very caring man, doing his best to get the three children an education while he worked, but in 2003 he was killed. Her mother returned to work on the tea plantation, and remarried in 2004.
Nimesha’s mother’s second husband is an alcoholic who verbally abuses her, calling her names and admonishing her for the effort she puts in to fund her education. He cannot find steady work; as she says, “If my father were here he would not do these things.” As a result, she struggles day-to-day to find money for food and for her bus fare to school at Tea Leaf Vision. She leaves school each day at 4:30 and tutors in English from 5:30-7, then gets a bus home to tutor again from 9-midnight, and finally then starts her homework. The only food she knows she can get is from a street vendor near the school, for which she pools money with friends to get a few fried items; she never has breakfast, and arrives home each day hoping that there may be some remnants of dinner for her.
Unlike her two brothers, who live and work in Colombo (a 5-hour drive away), Nimesha is achieving an education through Tea Leaf Vision. She is in her second year in the Intern program here and hopefully will work as a teacher at the school next year. The issue for her – what prevents her from getting the most out of her education, which takes time from her studies, leaves her short on food, and at times prevents her from coming to school at all – is money.