Made by Survivors | Darjeeling has so much more than Tea…
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Darjeeling has so much more than Tea…

12 Apr 2008, by elance programmer in Uncategorized

April 10, 2008 

As a huge tea drinker, I couldn’t miss the opporunity to visit Darjeeling during tea plucking season. While there, I visited a fair trade - organic tea estate called Makai Bari, which means "House/Land of Corn."  During the tour, I ended up meeting the owner, Rajah Banerjee, who showed me how to properly taste and make tea. Rajah is quite an eccentric character who pioneered organically grown tea and fair trade practices on the tea estates. 

We discussed TEN’s work in Kolkata and agreed that his tea business helps prevent trafficking in this TRCregion, since many of the women in Kolkata’s red light districts come from the Darjeeling area. Makai Bari has truly given the women an economic option, having them as shareholders in the business and providing a free healthclinic. They have established home stay options for interested volunteers or researchers. If you’re interested in really learning about tea or fair trade agriculture, visit their website for more information.

AparMakai Barit from the fabulous tea, I also visited the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center. This center, located on the side of the mountain, provides residential space, educational opportunities, and handicraft production. As I’ve learned, statelessness and lack of citizenship is a major factor in someone’s risk to trafficking, so this center is crucial to preventing trafficking within the Tibetan community in India. 

The other amazing store I found is Hayden Hall, which employs about 70 women in various handicrafts, mostly weaving and stitching. They have a day school for the women’s children, pay fair prices, all that good stuff that prevents trafficking! It was so exciting to speak with the store manager about these issues because the Northeast region (especially near the Nepali border) is a hotbed for trafficking.

Since I was literally in the foothills of the Himalayas, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go trekking. My friends and I arranged a two-day trek at Mount Sandakphu, spent our night shivering underneath 7 blankets, and woke up at 5am to see the sunrise view of Mount Everest. Should you ever get to Darjeeling, first go to Makai Bari, but thMount Everesten go to Sandakphu!

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