For the past five years, Anthea Turner has been working alongside the children’s charity Their Future Today with a mission to end the suffering of young people disadvantaged through poverty in Sri Lanka.
Back in 2018, the presenter was invited to the organisation’s annual ball and was “blown away” by the work the charity was doing to aid children whose families were forced to abandon them in harmful orphanages.
This year, HELLO! is partnering with the Big Give as it launches what it hopes will be its biggest-ever Christmas fundraiser, and as part of the initiative, Anthea sat down with HELLO! for an exclusive chat about the hardships of children growing up in Sri Lanka, the important work of Their Future Today and how charity work is the secret to keeping her young.
“‘Children belong in families, not orphanages’ is the charity’s mantra,” says Anthea, who explained that more than 80 per cent of children living in Sri Lankan orphanages actually have families who simply don’t have the means to support them.
“I love Their Future Today as it’s not only advocating for change in the world but providing solutions through education and training to keep families together,” she said. “Most importantly, it provides alternative family and foster care training. Foster care is currently an unknown concept, and recently the charity received permission to introduce a pilot project with an aim to close the first state orphanage in Sri Lanka.”
Anthea explained that since the country’s worst economic crisis in 2022, around six million people are struggling to afford regular meals, with 60,000 in acute hunger. “Many more families are having to make heartbreaking choices because they feel so hopeless for the future and abandon their children into orphanages, which Their Future Today has been working so hard to keep them out of,” she said.
“Children are malnourished and fainting at school too. Their Future Today’s Big Give programme is all about giving these children at least one nutritious meal a day. No child learns when they are starving, well it’s not possible, is it? And the cycle of poverty just continues.”
Speaking about the charity’s success, Anthea revealed that over 40,000 children have been able to go to school and achieve qualifications with the school book packs provided by Their Future Today over the years.
Recalling one of the organisation’s success stories, the former Blue Peter host continued: “One young girl, in particular, stands out – she was rescued by the Their Future Today’s Heartbeat Centre shelter after escaping family violence and abuse. She’s training now to be a lawyer to help other children in the same situation. I think this demonstrates how Their Future Today really helps children rebuild their self-worth, after going through horrendous life experiences.”
It’s not just the children in Sri Lanka who are positively impacted by the charity’s hard work, however, as Anthea also feels the benefit. “I think keeping active and getting involved with projects helping children make me fall in love with life to help me stay young,” she said. “It’s a beautiful way to feel centred, grateful, and at peace
“Their Future Today helps me connect with how anyone can make a difference in the world. I encourage you all to get involved with the charity – they really need your support.”
SOURCE: hello magazine .com