The Amma project, a charity initiative started by a British Tamil couple, is working alongside the Swansea Asylum Seekers Support (SASS) to provide gifts for children from refugee families during the Christmas period. SASS charity was chosen by the couple as they help asylum seeker familes in various situations, a cause close to their hearts. Donations can be received on the GoFundme until the 16th of December for gifts, where almost £900 has been raised. Any donations made after this will go towards essentials such as blankets, clothes and foods.
Badushi and Gowrypalan shared an interest in starting this project since their time at university together, having shared experiences of emotional distress and trauma from when they themselves had been refugees in the UK. Both Badushi and Gowrypalan arrived in the UK as child refugees, after their families fled the genocide in Sri Lanka.
The Amma project, meaning mother in Tamil, was named in honour of both Badushi Jeganathan and Gowrypalan Ganenthira’s mothers. It was created by the couple currently living in Wales, to provide essentials and necessities for families and children in vulnerable situations.
According to immigration statistics provided by Gov.uk, 32,304 people applied for asylum after fleeing Sri Lanka between 2001 to 2022. The Amma project will be helping a number of asylum seekers with their efforts to raise awareness to donate and the end result of providing necessities with the money raised.
Speaking on their own experiences as asylum seekers, Badushi recalls: “I remember the chaos and how my parents were paying so much money to get my cousin to safety from the dangerous war zone area. When we came to the UK, the culture, climate, food, the way people dressed was all a shock, but my mum was a rock. I don’t even know how she did it. She had all these problems and never told us. We have never felt the burden our mothers were under but we learnt from each other. Our mums have always told us that if you're in a privileged position and can help others, do it, as others have done for us when we needed it. I was lucky enough to have a support system that was solid and ultimately our goal is to reduce that struggle for the children.”
Gowrypalan added: “A moment which has stuck with me was when a Bangladeshi man explained that back home where it was war torn his parents became an umbrella - sheltering him and helping him grow. When he fled to the UK, SASS took him in and they became the umbrella his parents were back home. We would also love to do that.”
For Badushi, this project is very personal. “We just wanted these children to have some sort of happiness or hope and know that things will get better. Our parents shielded us well but certain things are noticeable at a young age. My mum was scraping to give me dinner money and clothes, it was hard to understand. I hope to take even the smallest bit of stress away from any child or parent in a vulnerable situation because that's what my mum did for me. I wanted to show everyone that anyone can initiate projects like this. We wanted to inspire others to do this.”
“Our ultimate goal is to help children in Tamil Eelam,” Badushi said. “Anything from immmunisation programmes, Christmas box donations, to breaking the system and making education accessible to everyone back home in any form we can help.” Gowrypalan added that access to education was also very important to him.
Badushi and Gowrypalan will be continuing their journey of growth for the Amma project. With research already having begun for their next ventures to help those who need it.