The team at Podium have partnered with Dignity Through Education, a small organisation that supports higher education for the underprivileged children of tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka.

Managing Director Andy Thevarokiam’s Sri Lankan father, Theva, founded Dignity Through Education in 2015 after meeting Dr Jehan Perera, the Chief Executive of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka (NPC) who campaigns for peace and reconciliation of different religious, racial and language groups of people in Sri Lanka and for the rights of rural tea plantation workers and their families.

Andy became a trustee in the organisation in 2016 and has helped his father with setting up a website – – and managing aspects of the marketing and administration of Dignity Through Education.

This year, each member of the Podium team has been matched with a student in Sri Lanka to provide their university tuition and related costs. Dignity Through Education has now sponsored 32 students in total and is looking for more enthusiastic donors to help more students with their university costs.

About Sri Lankan tea plantation workers

The tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka are the descendants of Indian Tamils who were brought to British Ceylon in the 1860s. They were expected to work in very harsh conditions with very low wages.

Today, there are still 500,000 workers in the Sri Lankan tea industry, most women who earn around just £4 per day. They work long hours in severe hard weather conditions, sometimes at an elevation of 2,500 metres or more, without cold protective clothing, proper breaks and with heavy quotas.

Tea plantation workers pluck around 16-24 kg of tea leaves a day, which involves plucking thousands of shoots with their bare fingers, carrying 4-6 kg of tea in a heavy sack on their shoulder, and then carrying it through slippery terrain on bare foot. They then go home to do the housework and cooking for a typical household size of five or more.

These labourers contribute to nearly 70% of the foreign exchange earnings of the country, but have been denied the basics in terms of standard education, housing, medical and sanitary amenities for nearly 150 years.

There are approximately 60,000 young people aged 15-30 living on the tea plantations. Around half have undergone primary education since schools aren’t often accessible. Passing their A levels, much less going to university, is a great achievement. This is where Dignity Through Education comes in, to help support students who have overcome great difficulty to succeed in being accepted to university.

The team members at Podium have successfully matched with and sponsored 6 students this year, but there are now more students on the waiting list to be matched with a sponsor. For just £12 a month, donors could dramatically change the life of a Sri Lankan student by funding their university tuition and related costs.

A student’s feedback:

“I am proud to say that I am a child of a tea estate labourer and even more proud that I am a Degree holder, a very rare privilege for someone from a forgotten community. With all the financial difficulties of my parents, the help was much appreciated.”

To get involved, contact Andy by emailing [email protected] or ringing 0191 466 1455.