Light bulb moment: Tim Pare

The chief executive of the Tea Leaf Trust talks about why he founded a charity that helps communities in the tea plantations of Sri Lanka

Tim Pare
Tim Pare

I was on honeymoon with my wife in 2007, and we stayed in a hotel near the tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya, which is situated in the hill country of Central Province, Sri Lanka.

While travelling up there, we noticed the 5km main road to the hotel was in a very bad state of repair. I went to find out why the hotel hadn't repaired the road for the community and was told by the general manager that the hotel collects donations from the guests and it paints the roofs of the local houses green.

It occurred to me that the hotel was simply hiding the poverty from the views of tourists.

I have spent a lot of time - as I'm sure a lot of us have - being a tourist in many countries and feeling empathy, or indeed sympathy about the poverty I've seen, then tucking myself up in a nice, comfortable hotel.

My wife and I enjoyed the rest of our honeymoon, but on our return to the UK decided to set up the Tea Leaf Trust. We fundraised £23,000 alongside our regular jobs, then a year later we moved to Sri Lanka, where we lived around the tea plantations for four years.

We returned to the UK in 2013, but our time in Sri Lanka has given me a much clearer, more level perspective on life. I have been at charities that spend more on their awards ceremonies than I do on running my school for a year. I think my wife and I would say that we had the best years of our lives in Sri Lanka.

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