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A Different Cup of Tea: Empowering Workers

(careMin) posted September 17, 2012

Sri Lanka’s tea plantations produce a large portion of the world’s tea supply, but the workers picking the leaves are isolated economically, culturally and geographically from the rest of Sri Lanka. Many of the workers are Indian Tamil people brought over by the British to help with the tea industry. After all, it was the British who first brought tea to Sri Lanka in the 1800’s.

These workers often live and work on the same tea estate where they face challenges: poor educational access, inadequate health facilities, lack of alternative income opportunities and social stigma and discrimination. CARE first stepped in and created the Plantation Community Empowerment Project or PCEP to enhance the worker-management relationships on these estates.

PCEP enabled the workers to be heard and, now, to be partners in the community progress. It all starts with Community Development Forums where both management and workers assemble and discuss the issues and problems of the plantation. They both become partners in decision-making. These forums consist of at least 30 members of management and the community with the requirement that at least 50% of the participants are female (the vast majority of tea picking workers are female). The discussions in the forums focus on the rights of residents, such as water, sanitation, health and nutrition, educational opportunities and income-generation activities.

From these discussions, CARE and Teavana have partnered to meet the needs of the community that arose. Be sure to read Tea … And Computers with CARE. As always, we encourage you to consider donating to CARE. And remember that portions of the tea profits from Teavana are donated to help as well.

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