Children Suffer in a System that Rewards Wealth.
Depending on who you are or where you’re from, you may have strong opinions of tea.
You may prefer hot tea to iced, sweet tea to unsweet, a fancy chai latte (or dirty chai, with a shot of espresso), a cozy London Fog (earl grey with a splash of milk), or an intriguing concoction known in some circles as “boba” tea and in others as “bubble” tea.
Or, you may hate tea.
But we’re hoping that for the next few minutes, you’ll care deeply about tea, where it comes from, and the people who make drinking tea possible because they need your help.
Near Slave-Like Conditions Plague Bangladesh’s Tea Farms
Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest tea producers. It’s the world’s 10th-largest producer of tea, and the world’s 9th-largest exporter of tea.
In order for tea to get from the fields of Bangladesh to your mug requires human labor. Estimates of how many tea laborers there are vary. Some say there are anywhere from 100,000 to more than 140,000. One estimate includes family members of tea laborers and puts that number closer to 400,000 people living and/or working on Bangladesh’s tea gardens.
Jahir, 9: A Courageous Tea Kid with Big Dreams
One of the children living on a tea garden is little Jahir. You may have first met Jahir last year, when we first started working with tea farmers in Bangladesh.
Today, Jahir is 9. He’s the youngest in his family. 7 family members live together in the little mud hut on the labor lines: Jahir, his brother and sister, his mom and dad, and his elderly grandparents.
Jahir’s family has lived and worked on the tea garden labor lines for generations. Jahir’s dad, Maramali, is a tea laborer. He provides for his family with daily wages that total just $1 USD per day.
The family’s mud hut is provided by the tea garden, but they have no land to grow additional food. Maramali’s wages barely provide two basic meals of rice each day. They have no access to sanitation or clean drinking water. As a result, the children and grandparents are often sick.
Maramali has worked in the tea fields his entire life. He never learned how to read. And his hope is dwindling. He knows his son deserves a better life. But he can’t give it to Jahir because his wages are so meager.
Maramali’s story is not unique. Throughout Bangladesh’s tea gardens, fair wages remain a consistent problem. Laborers often work from sunrise to sunset, performing backbreaking work of plucking, carrying, and weighing tea leaves.
Despite the bleak circumstances, Jahir is a little boy full of hope. He has big dreams: he wants to be a doctor!
You are the Hope the Tea Kids Cling To
And there is hope for Jahir and the other tea kids like him: YOU.
With your help, Jahir and many like him will be able to go to school for the first time in their lives.