A caring couple who gave up their jobs, packed up their belongings and founded a charity to help vulnerable children in Sri Lanka are happily adjusting to their new life.
Carl and Racheal Gale were moved to set up The TEA Project after visiting the Asian country in June, 2014, and seeing the desperate situation of children there.
The couple, who have two young children, Kyan and Asia-Lilly, are now appealing for the public’s help to keep their ambitious project alive.
Forty-one year old Carl, who attended Ribblesdale High School, said: “We had never visited Sri Lanka before but chose to start The TEA Project in the country because firstly the need is here.
“We also felt we could maximise the effect of the small amount of funds which we had available and that it was a positive environment for our children and of course ourselves.
“We discussed the move as a family and we all agreed and felt it was the right thing to do.
If our vision resonates with people who want to help us maintain and expand on what we are doing then we urge them to get in touch. We will help anyway we canCarl
“Once we had raised enough funding to get the project to Sri Lanka we handed in our notice, booked the tickets, packed up a few belongings and materials for the project in four suitcases, put our family home on the rental market and set out to begin our new life. Our thoughts were that if we failed to raise enough funding to stay in Sri Lanka for a year then we would do the most we could in a few months with what we had raised before leaving the UK.”
The couple wasted no time on their arrival – first supporting a children’s charity in Kandy.
And their dream has now grown with the couple building partnerships with five government schools across the island providing for the poorest children, two girls orphanages, an independent school for rural children (all in Sri Lanka) and an orphanage and school in Kerala State, Southern India.
The family are also adjusting to a very different life to what they were used to in East Lancashire.
Carl added: “Life is very different here. The weather changes by the hour from monsoonal rains to blistering sun, the spicy food is extreme – Sri Lankans would spice the ice cream if they could.
“School life, new languages, the melting pot of religious faiths, different customs.
“Also the pollution surprisingly in Kandy and the level of poverty and child abuse. We have grown used to the scorpions, deadly vipers, monkeys, cockroaches, spiders, huge fruit bats, mongoose and wild dogs that visit our home daily, but will never probably get used to the constant attack of mosquitos.”
The couple, who have family in Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley, have set up a website where members of the public can donate to their cause.
“The TEA Project is funded purely via public donation and 100% of every donation is used to provide the training and workshops that we believe help to provide a sustainable, positive and real change to children living in poverty.
“Any personal costs that are not project related we raise from the rental of our flat back in the UK. We are proud that The TEA Project is made possible and only exists because of the people who support and believe in what the project is doing.”
The project, which was given charity status last September, is now working to a five year plan, and the current cost to run the projects and deliver training and workshops is around £12,000 over the year.
Carl said: “We really need public support. Without the support of the general public we cease to exist. It’s that simple.
“If our vision resonates with people who want to help us maintain and expand on what we are doing then we urge them to get in touch. We will help anyway we can.
“We are developing new partnerships all the time, providing effective support to more and more children living in poverty every day, now reaching thousands of children in need.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the TEA Project can visit the website www.theteaproject.org.