Chaplon Tea provides work and education

High quality tea provides work and development

Chaplon's tea bags are delicately handmade out of cotton and filled with freshly blended tea. They are manufactured at our own tea-packing factory in Sri Lanka, where we also mix the fresh tea with spices and flowers.

The tea-packing factory is located near the coast in an area that was hit hard by the tsunami in 2004. The ruins of abandoned homes and communities still remain, with many families in the local area having lost everything they owned.

Our tea-packing factory provides 16 families with new opportunities because a permanent job for each of the women means a fixed income for the whole family. Our tea stores are located along the west coast and provide additional employment.

Because we control all the processes in the production of our tea, from bush to cup, we can give our tea pickers and other plantation workers considerably higher wages than the very low wages currently earned elsewhere in the industry. Chaplon provides health insurance and pensions for all our workers on the plantations, in our stores and in the tea-packing factory. Working hours in the plantations have also been substantially shortened. We facilitate and encourage both men and women from different religions and ethnic groups to be represented among our staff and work together in our stores and tea-centres.

We will show that we can do business in a way that enables the wealth generated to also benefit vulnerable and harder-hit families. What we are doing makes Chaplon very special in Sri Lanka. It is our hope that we can inspire others by our example.

Social sustainability is part of our way of working.

English classes after work

The possibility of education is one of the benefits we offer our employees in Sri Lanka. Chaplon places a substantial emphasis on staff development and training.

In Sri Lanka, there is free public schooling, but many families still find it difficult to raise money for school uniforms, books, paper and pens. Many children therefore accept an education from just the makeshift schools. Middle-class children often go to private schools, or supplement public education with private lessons. As a result, there is a large gap in education levels between poor and affluent children in Sri Lanka, despite the public school system. The plantation workers of today are among the poorest of this tea-focused island. Lack of schooling and education in the tea fields keeps them in poverty. In offering free language classes, we are proud to be able to help those who did not get the best start in life after they went to school.

English lessons are popular because English is the key to obtaining a firm, good job in Sri Lanka today. People from coastal and highland tea areas typically only attend public elementary schools and hence they cannot speak English well enough to achieve a good education or seek better paying and more uplifting jobs.

'My students here come from poor families, who typically have lived off the salary by the men fishing, and many of them have dropped out after primary school. This means that they have had 20 minutes of English per day from the 3rd grade, but there are very few who actually had the opportunity to do homework or practice their English.' says Samantha Wimalasekara, our English teacher.

The classes in English provide staff at the tea-packing factory with new opportunities such as working in our stores. In the stores we offer language courses in Arabic and Russian as well, and it is a minimum requirement that the staff can speak English.

At our newest plantation near the town Passara, we strive to provide the plantation workers' children with lessons as a supplement to the public education. We plan to start a school in Passara for the children of our plantations workers.

We are happy to be involved in breaking the cycle of poor education and lack of opportunities with these specific projects.