THE TEA GARDENS OF BANGLADESH
Project Tea Garden
The tea garden population of Bangladesh is made up of some of the most deprived people in the world - socially and politically. Their extreme poverty keeps them in a social cycle of deprivation and exclusion, marginalised from Bangladesh life.
Wages are under £1 a day, healthcare is virtually non-existent and education scant and poor quality. They don't have a political or legal voice, as any unions are silenced by corruption. Workers are trapped deeply in a way that leaves them dependant on the tea garden companies for food, medicine accommodation and education.
These are a people who work hard six days a week, with women being the main tea pickers (60%) working through the whole of pregnancy and returning 42 hours after giving birth. After four or more children the women are worn out with premature ageing.
Children who get schooling often leave by the age of 10 to look after younger siblings or to work themselves to help feed the family.
There are over 160 tea plantations in Bangladesh all having their own village community who barely venture out of the confines of the plantation. For four generations now, they have been captive labourers, not progressing in any direction out of the tea garden.
Our work in the tea gardens has been inspired by many visits, exposure to the need and a deep compassion to give these people help and awareness where needed. We want to be a link to healthcare as soon as the need arises, especially in the area of child/adult blindness.
Some 60% of the tea garden children have stunted growth and the majority of the women are malnourished or have wasting disease. The diet of these people is mainly rice and the intake of vitamins and protein is badly lacking, hence the high percentage of malnutrition and disease.
In 2019 we funded Mamony, a lovely tea garden girl, to be our worker. Trained by Moulvibazar hospital, she lives in the area and goes door-to-door, teaching awareness of vitamin intake, sanitation and nutrition, as well as vision-testing the children.
Mamony is one of the few tea garden children who has received an education and wants to help her own people. She has been working with us since January 2020 and reports back to us if any child or adult is losing sight. With our connections to Moulvibazar Eye Hospital, we then facilitate and fund appropriate treatment.
Our aim is prevent the loss of sight, especially in a child, before it is too late for treatment. We will also assess the ongoing need as we work.
Before Covid-19 hit we had taken a minibus full of children and adults to the hospital for treatment. We hope to resume this as a regular service as soon as lockdown in Bangladesh ends.
For more information on our Project Tea Garden Fundraiser please visit our News & Updates page.