Katrell Christie’s The Learning Tea — Teaography

Posted by: sarahbesky 

Fantastic and thoughtful project by Atlanta tea shop owner, Katrell Christie.

Quoted from the website:

The Learning Tea lets Atlanta reach out to India one cup at a time

While it’s not uncommon for people to find a new perspective while traveling, Candler Park resident and Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party shop owner Katrell Christie found herself in India during Summer 2009 with a growing new purpose and a strong determination to help better the lives of the children she’d met while spending time at both a Darjeeling orphanage and a elementary school, one of the oldest schools in Darjeeling.

For these Darjeeling children living in poverty, education is simply the only method of rising beyond their situation, which in most cases is dire.

Darjeeling is world famous for its beautiful tea gardens and flavorful teas, but it harbors a darker side as the region’s hub for forced labor and sex exploitation, as well as child trafficking and child labor. Without education, young girls are forced into prostitution in the area, or even transported to work in brothels in other regions of India when they leave orphanages at 16 or 17, with no viable alternatives in the area without a university education.

It’s also equally important for young boys in poverty to receive a good education. The area surrounding Darjeeling is known for being open to insurgents, drug traffickers, or terrorists. Recruitment begins early with the poor, young boys whose families are lured by the promise of education, food, and shelter, but in reality the education simply involves brainwashing and the creation of a future generation of terrorists and drug peddlers.

Accepting any of these futures for these children was simply not an alternative in Christie’s eyes, and The Learning Tea was born as a result. It didn’t take long for her to develop a two-fold plan to raise money to support the school and orphanage through the sale of the flavorful Darjeeling Green and Black teas she had handpicked through hundreds of varieties, and by selling photo prints of her journey.

100% of the profits from The Learning Tea will fund several projects for these children.

For 2010, Christie has pledged to buy uniforms and put a working toilet in at elementary school. The school needs drastic help in terms of basic hygiene, as well as food and clothing for the students. They rarely receive a lunch and there is currently no bathroom facility or running water available there.

The students are so thankful and pleased to receive an education there that they continue to attend during monsoon season, despite the fact that their classroom has dirt floors that flood and require them to sit atop their desks.

She also has committed herself in 2010 to fully funding the education of three orphan girls a year at a nearby Darjeeling university; for $500, each girl can receive one year of university education, empowering them towards a much brighter future than the alternative available for the women that have left the orphanage before them. No girl from the orphanage has previously ever had the opportunity to attend higher education.

It takes so little financially to make a huge difference in the life of these children. The Learning Tea is simply a catalyst for change, one cup at a time shaping their lives towards a much brighter future!