In the mountains of Southern India, The United Nilgiri Tea Estates (UNITEA) has grown black teas since 1922. We started working with them in 2009 and shortly after became a partner in the Korakundah Project, helping them build a school in their community.
Prior to the project, the children did not have access to education, limiting their career options as they got older. Knowing that the more we invest in our farmers and producers, the better our relationships become, helping build the school was a great way to show our commitment to a long-term partnership.
With a few other donors, a K-12 school was built. Complete with a computer lab, chemistry lab, playground, and several other classrooms. Our initial donation help fund the school, but our ongoing business helps fund other social initiates. We pay a premium for their tea which trickles down into programs like scholarships for students to go to college, clean drinking water, and medical services in the community.
Nearly ten years after the school was built, we are still buying tea from UNITEA. The school now has 1,200 children attending. They come from parents of the tea workers and from 26 villages nearby. The school has a 0% dropout rate and 98%-100% get passing grades. When the school was first built, teachers were worried the education would not be adequate for students to go on to college, but they have, in fact, created an education program that prepares students just as well as other schools. They have seen students go on to be neurosurgeons, nurses, IT professionals, and agriculture graduates.
As our relationship continues, not only do we get to see the success of the students, but our tea gets better and better, too. We learned a long time ago that if you invest in the people making your product, you will also benefit. The Korakundah Project is a great examples of this. If you’d like to try some of the tea that UNITEA grows, try our Organic Earl Grey or Organic Indian Chai.