In a first time effort in the hills, tea women are coming to college to take lessons in empowerment. The academia-industry partnership initiative launched, on 21 February 2021 is at its mid-point marking women’s day 8th March. 28 women from 3 tea plantations in the hills are in this project spanning five Sundays till 21st March 2021.
Salesian College Sonada established in 1938 and Tea Promoters India founded in 1980 who own plantations in Darjeeling, Dooars, Assam and Kerala have launched a pilot project entitled: Women Empowerment in Tea Communities. They offer workshops spread out on five Sundays from 21st February to 21 March 2021.
In the first phase, ten women workers from three gardens are being trained in Health and Hygiene; Domestic Violence and Rights; Parenting Skills; Alcohol and Substance Abuse; and formation of Self Help Groups.
The newly opened Bachelor of Social Work department at Salesian College Sonada under its head Assistant Professor Sumina Chhetri and eight students are behind the workshop.
“This women empowerment workshop is a part of our social outreach program,” said Rector of Salesian College Sonada Fr Tomy Augustine, welcoming participants and plantation management staff.
A total of 28 participants along with their management staff from far flung Seeyok, Selimbong, and Singell organic plantations formed the first batch brought together by the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of The Tea Promoters India (TPI) by whole time director Mr. J.P. Gurung.
Salesian Sister Anjana Rai native of the hills currently nurse at Auxilium Dispensary Mirik took day-long sessions (10.15 a.m. to 3.15 p.m.) on Health and Hygiene related to women and girls. She stressed on Infant and Young Child feeding as well as first aid, menstruation and menstrual hygiene; and safe drinking water.
For sessions on second and third Sundays, Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny from Kalimpong Sr. Elisha Gurung and Sr Claret Lepcha gave presentations on preventing Domestic Violence, and improving Parenting Skills.
The program is scheduled to conclude on 21st March 2021.