Chai Kuli - Tea Garden Workers

Tea is one of the oldest and most consumed beverages in the world. it is the most widespread drink after water and its history begin 5000 years old. the tea plant (Camelia Sinesis) originated in southeast Asia, especially in the zone between north est India, China, Burma and Tibet. in China there was the first signs of consumption as a medicinal drink. Tea was introduced in Europe from jesuit priests back from missionary journey in China in 1560. India is the second largest tea producer after china, Assam is one of the biggest producer region and one of the most appreciated varieties in all the world. But the condition of tea workers is not comparable to those who make the profit on it. Tea garden workers constitute approximately 25% of population in the state of Assam, they are almost all women, who with their work support the whole family. Assam’s tea workers, working 6 days a week, with every weather conditions, often under the rain, are paid about $1.50 a day also from the great international tea brands, the same that we find in all the markets in the world. The Tea workers, called Chai Kuli, coming from all villages around the tea garden and lives in huts covered by mud without any confort like bathroom or heating. The Assam region is known around the world for its tea, is also the region with the highest maternal mortality ratio in the country. doctors say that the frequent maternal mortality and many other diseases among tea workers is due to a mix of poverty and malnutrition. these women completely sacrifice their lives to feed their family, it's a really daily struggle to survive and a vicious circle because with poor access to education, their children are left with no option but to become workers themselves. (images were taken on Assam's border with Nagaland)

Emiliano Pinnizzotto / Photography /

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