Ethical Enterprises Initiative for Youth
Panighatta Paper Products and Sukna Jute Products
Providing alternative means of generating income is vital in the tea estates of Darjeeling. These projects offer an escape from exploitative tea plucking labour and assist in combating human trafficking. Up to 40% of families in many tea estates live below the poverty line. For young girls, there are limited economic opportunities beyond a career as a ‘tea plucker’, earning AU$1.50 per day for removing 23kg of tea leaves.
Panighatta Paper Products (PPP) project and the Sukna Jute Products (SJP) were established by the Darjeeling Mary Ward Social Centre to allow young people to earn an income, learn new skills and stay in school.
PPP trains adolescent girls in paper making and paper goods production, such as the creation of gift bags, stationary and cards. SJP teaches girls jute-weaving for the production of bags, table mats, coasters and key-chains.
- Provide vocational training skills, experience and income to the youth living in the Panighatta and Sukna Tea Garden estates.
- Provide business management training, income generation opportunities and career guidance for female teenagers.
- To become a sustainable and viable business.
In 2014-15 the Ethical Enterprise Initiative for Youth Program was able to support:
- 80 girls in the Sukna Jute Products project by designing and weaving products out of jute, including bags, purses, table-mats and decorations.
- 25 girls in the Panighatta Paper Products project designing and manufacturing paper cards, bags, envelopes and bookmarks.
This project is successfully creating employment opportunities, providing a source of income and empowering young women to lead independent lives. The girls are also given opportunities to attend training about health, trafficking, learning about their rights and accessing government benefits.
One girl was able to avoid an arranged marriage at a young age by proving to her parents she could look after herself.
Collective Voices Gaining Strength Program
Collective Voices is a program that helps empower the women of rural India to know, promote and enact their rights in four key areas: Education, Protection, Health and Nutrition. It is located in the disadvantaged and marginalised tea plantation communities of the Darjeeling region.
Collective Voices, co-funded by Loreto Family International, was launched in Panighatta, Darjeeling, on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2009. The goal of the project was to create a model “Woman-Youth-Child Friendly Community” whereby women, youth and children are helped to participate in the planning process in their community and have access to vital needs.
It is common for children to receive a low standard of education, if any at all, and most adults do not understand their fundamental rights. The community has had little access to services, government benefits and entitlements.
Women make up 50% of the workers and cultural values continue to disadvantage women in every aspect of their lives.
- Empower communities living in the tea plantations in Darjeeling to know, promote and enact their rights in four key areas: Education, Protection, Health and Nutrition.
- Link the community and self-help groups with services and facilities provided by the Government e.g. legal aid.
- Reduce child mortality rates, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.
- Promote gender equality.
The community has been empowered to understand their universal rights but also to learn what government services they are entitled to and which will help lift them out of poverty.
Over the past year:
- 640 people have opened a ‘zero balance’ savings account and were offered Accident Insurance and Life Cover as an incentive to do so.
- 40 people received a government ration card.
- 10 rescue and rehabilitation cases involving trafficking, child marriage, child labour and rape were dealt with.
- 60 houses successfully applied to have toilet facilities built.
Of significant importance are the women who have been empowered to form 19 ‘Self Help Groups’ across the region which has resulted in many gaining financial independence through micro-credit schemes. They also organise awareness raising programs covering education, protection, health and nutrition.
Loreto Tea Plantation Village School
The Loreto Tea Plantation Village School, also known as Loreto School Panighatta, is located in the Panighatta Tea Garden, one of the many tea gardens in the area.
Children without an education are at risk of being forced into exploitative labour in the tea gardens or being trafficked for the purpose of forced labour or sexual exploitation. Trafficking is a significant issue in West Bengal, as the region is a thoroughfare, being closely hugged by the borders of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Nepal.
MWIA has been supporting the redevelopment and expansion of the Loreto Tea Plantation Village School since 2012, including the construction of a new auditorium and two more classrooms, allowing the school to cater for students through to year 12. There are over 700 students currently enrolled.
Find out more from our project partners in Darjeeling about the work they are doing to empower women and children. Download newsletter here.
- Access to quality, equitable and effective education for all.
- Achieve sustainable economic growth and social development through education.
- Provide an education system responsive to community needs.
- Provide appropriate and increased infrastructure which meets educational and social needs.
2014-15 saw a dramatic increase across the following:
- Enrolment rates – Increased by 140%, with 120 new students enrolling in 2014.
- Attendance rate – 90%, improvement from 60-70% in 2013.
- Retention rate – 100%.
MWIA funds have helped to support the school in the following ways:
- Providing internet access for the first time via wireless modems.
- Contributing to the salaries of 22 staff members at the school.
- Subsidising 24 students with learning materials.
- Furnishing two new classrooms.
- Paying for staff training courses.
- Maintaining costs of the newly built auditorium.
- Providing students with a lunchtime meal.
Brickfield School Project
Throughout India there are thousands of brickfields – open air factories where clay bricks are made by hand. Most of the workers are migrants, including children, who spend up to 8 months of the year in these dusty fields in temperatures that can reach 40 degrees. Children come with their families to the brickfields and most work from 11 years of age or below. There is no education within the brickfields except in the schools run by Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC) and in a few places by other NGOs.
Since 2008, KMWSC has facilitated open air schools for 3-hours a day for the migrant children living in brickfields on the outskirts of Kolkata. Each brickfield has 2 teachers with around 50 children. Last year 51 schools were operational thanks to generous supporters. Health programs are also provided where free check-ups are offered and medication administered to all children and adult workers who seek treatment.
- Deliver basic education in literacy, mathematics and basic life skills to the children of the brickfields who cannot be enrolled in local schools.
- Build the children’s self-esteem and confidence so that within their family and community there can be an improvement in their physical security, life expectancy and future choices.
- Provide basic healthcare through medical camps.
- Assistance with medical emergencies, hospitalisations and medical follow-ups for children and adults.
With generous support from donors MWIA helps to pay for teaching salaries and supplies, such as notebooks and pencils.
Currently the Brickfield School Project is entirely dependent on foreign funding. This project requires donors to pledge funds for certain brickfield schools and ideally for five years. KMWSC hopes to supplement this by accessing and raising funds locally in India.
Join us today in helping children to reach their potential and unlock poverty.