A Taste of TEA: A week in the life.
The week starts brightly for The TEA Project on Monday at Madduma Bandara School. Here we run workshops for all year groups. It is both fantastically exhausting and a rewarding environment. This week the juniors were tasked to 'design their perfect school' whilst the seniors worked on a school partnership project that we coordinate with a school in the UK. Mandumma is severely underfunded and it's students come from the very poorest families in Kandy. Our presence here provides inspirational learning for the children and essential support to the teaching staff.
Tuesday is office time to sit down at the TEA table. As well as the day to day admin and workshop planning there is an urban art regeneration project, a new school partnership, volunteer programme, new projects, numerous workshops and a motivational address by local business supporters all around the corner to plan for.
Like something from a Dickens novel Wednesdays regular visit to the girls orphanage provides a sobering contrast. The intention of our weekly visit here is to return some light back into the lives of these affection starved young women. Sessions are designed to be relaxed, sociable, safe, fun and inclusive. Focussing on well-being and participation. It is a chance for the girls to discuss any personal worries and to mentally escape from their dark, austere confines. A tree of life was created by the girls on Wednesday to brighten the joyless and empty walls of the dining room. We'll all be washing glitter out of our hair for weeks!
We run creative workshops on Thursday at a charity centre in Kandy that supplies after school provision for children who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves; often this independence turns to begging, crime and frequently leaves them open to abuse. The purpose of these workshops is to encourage natural, free expression; a forum where they are encouraged not criticised, stimulated; where they can release their inhabitations and have fun. We held an election to vote for a class president. The children designed their election posters, gave an election speech and held a secret ballot where they voted for their president. Art is a universal communicator and an effective therapist.
Friday saw the beginning of our L.I.F.E training programme which will be delivered weekly to students at the innovative Royal International School in rural Kurenegala which is a 2.5 hour round trip bus ride from Kandy. The school provides the highest standards of education but is unique by welcoming and assisting children from lower income backgrounds. Here 25 children aged 12-14 will receive children's rights education, Leadership, Independence, Futures and Empowerment training. The two staff who attended the first session commented that the training had been "inspiring". We are looking forward to seeing future leaders develop.
Over the coming weekends our time will be focused on the completion of an urban art regeneration project at Madduma Bandara School; one we hope will provide a motivational new entrance for the students, staff and also return a sense of community pride. The budget is slim and the rain unforgiving but we will give it our best shot.
and on Sunday....we like to talk to you all.
*We need more overseas children to join our PENship Pal Programme, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info if you are interested.