Tea Leaf Vision is a project close to Melissa’s heart.
Tea Leaf Vision Centre for Professional Development provides free, life changing education programmes to youth of the poorest tea estate communities in Sri Lanka. This is to enable them to find work away from the plantations as the majority of Tea Leaf Vision’s beneficiaries (79%) live off less than $1 USA dollar a day (below the UN poverty band). That is why this free education programme which also provides links to employment is critical in the plantation area.
There’s a very personal reason why Melissa supports this charity. Had Melissa not been adopted as a baby and brought to the UK, she would be one of those workers struggling with backbreaking work to survive on a very low wage.
Growing up in East Anglia gave her one of the greatest gifts you can give a child - education - which enabled her to get a degree and follow her chosen career path.
The only keepsake she had of her birth mother was a photograph which was taken at a convent in Sri Lanka. Melissa always wondered about who she was but tracing her across two continents seemed an impossible dream - until a friend who was visiting on holiday said he’d look up the convent as a favour. He took the photograph and five days later, Melissa had a phone call with the news that she never dared hope that she would ever receive... After an incredible series of co-incidences, he’d not only found her mother, who had treasured that same photograph of her for 25 years but also discovered she had two full brothers and a grandmother living on a tea plantation.
One month later, Melissa travelled to Sri Lanka to see them. Meeting them was probably the most incredible day of her life and she keeps in regular contact by phone.
However, it was heartbreaking for Melissa to see their poverty and how lack of education, not just for her brothers but other children on the estate, imprisons generation after generation into a lifestyle from which there’s no escape.
In 2015, Melissa's eldest brother, Ashok, enrolled onto Tea Leaf Vision's English Diploma programme and graduated with a Merit Pass.
As a "thank you" for helping her family, throughout 2016, Melissa is fundraising to buy a second-hand school bus for Tea Leaf Vision. To donate, please follow this link: www.virginmoneygiving.com/Melissa-Day
Click here for more information.