A cup of tea that transforms lives

In this unique story of change, local leaders transformed a failing economy into an exciting development model by swapping wine for tea.

In 2003, life in this northern Indian village was difficult as the community relied on struggling local wine businesses for employment and income. Alcoholism was a major issue and children’s welfare was compromised.

Local church and village leader Nongspung says that “the idea to grow tea came from God". Nongspung and the other local leaders saw that their village needed to change, so they took a step of faith and decided to build a community tea plantation.

With funds donated by child sponsors, World Vision was able to partner with the community on this project, helping to build a tea processing centre, as well as acquire equipment and organic certification.

Today the high quality tea from their village is so popular that they aren't able to meet market demands. Their entire village has been transformed. Unemployment has been drastically reduced. Nongspung says families are healthier now, too.

“Today, the demand outstrips the supply. The business is growing and the tea...is going to all grocery outlets of the town in Shillong,” Nongspung says.

Ensuring the business is sustainable and benefits the wider community is a priority for the village and a system where villages can join hands in the production of raw tea leaves is being looked into.

The decision to produce tea in the village has contributed not only to an improved economic situation for the community, but also to social gains for real people. Being involved in the tea plantation has strengthened the sense of ownership felt by local farmers and they have learnt improved agricultural techniques. The problem of alcoholism has declined and the village is seeing great health benefits from consuming their tea.

“Because of tea, impoverished families now have the means to keep their children in the classroom till they complete school. Food insecurity is a thing of the past and proper housing is possible,” says one village member.

TOP: District Leader Nongspung shows his 14-year-old sponsored daughter Darihun how to pick tea leaves. Photo: Jon Warren/ World Vision. BOTTOM: Women from the village package tea they have grown. Demand for Urlong tea has now outstripped the supply. Photo: Jon Warren/ World Vision.