Friday, July 3, 2009

Help Makaibari

I've posted this on Twitter and passed on the news to World Tea News (who did a story on it), but I wanted to post here as well. Darjeeling's Makaibari Tea Estate was hit by a cyclone recently, and there was quite a bit of destruction. IMHO, Makaibari is an incredible tea estate with honorable labor and environmental practices, and excellent teas. (Their Silver Green is phenomenal and their Second Flush Muscatel is one of the highest-priced auction teas in the world.) You can donate to help Makaibari through Eco Prima a wholesale tea company, the sole U.S. importer of Makaibari teas, owned by Anupa Mueller, the sister-in-law of Rajah (Makaibari's owner) and a wonderful person in her own right.

Edit -- I originally mistyped and called Anupa Rajah's sister. She is his sister-in-law. Also, I received the following update:

Anupa -- Makaibari was not the only garden to be hit. The entire sub-district got hit pretty bad. Makaibari is situated in the Kurseong Valley in the district of Darjeeling - the entire valley was affected. (I've provided Rajah's description below).

Rajah -- Castleton had heavy damages in their Dhargaon village. There is a huge landslide which has taken away a considerable portion of their tea. The landslide is so devastating that even today a month after the cyclone hit, the slide continues traumatising all in the vicinity with the sound of the slide. More so in the dead of night, as the sliding earth groans horrifically, like a wounded lion as it cascades downhill. The first few nights were sleepless. On top of Singell tea estate, a massive landslide buried a family. all members died. At Longview tea estate, a massive tree which was uprooted, trapped an adolescent girl for over a day, killing her, as none could extricate her. Goethals school, has lost their entire sports campus. Happy Valley lost a great deal of tea as well as a village near the factory, 6 people died on the spot. Goomtee tea estate suffered enormous damages in their villages- mercifully no deaths. Arya tea estate has lost tea and property damage. The list goes on and on. There were about 50 people who died in the cyclone in the district. The loss to property in the Kurseong subdistrict alone is around 6 million dollars and the sub-district is quite small.

Anupa -- This should give you some idea. And now with the monsoons there, rebuilding is a real problem. They will have to wait until after the rains to get permanent structures built. Thank you for all your efforts. Rajah tells me that his people are overwhelmed at the generosity of people thousands of miles away and have hope that they will come through because of it.

In answer to my question regarding why Makaibari is the only estate that seems to have support here in the states, Makaibari got the press because we (Eco Prima) are here devoted to its cause! Other gardens do not have personal representatives here necessarily and we live at Makaibari and have a market presence here in the U.S. I would not even know how to get relief to the other gardens and there is no district-specific effort that I'm aware of. It makes a difference when the owner lives on the estate and is personally aware of all the grief and damage - it brings it to the forefront and you are more motivated to get attention to it - that's the difference.

(Lindsey -- And because I asked World Tea News to cover it. :) No, really, Anupa has been a much bigger supporter than I. She is very devoted to Makaibari.)

Anupa -- BTW, I concur and would add that Rajah is such a dynamic force that all of Makaibari's devoted fans know of him and his unique compassion for the land and the people of Darjeeling, so there is a human connection to the estate, not JUST the great tea.


Steph said...

Wow - thank you for the notice. I'm sad to hear that!

Snehangshu said...

Good post! A very justified cause, indeed. I came across this blog by chance and just wanted to make a minor clarification, -Anupa Mueller is Rajah's sister-in-law, i.e. his wife Srirupa's sister.

Kind regards,

Snehangshu Roy

Snehangshu said...

A good cause, a very good post, indeed. I came across your post by chance and thought of contributing by making a minor clarification, i.e. -Anupa Mueller is Rajah Banerjee's sister-in-law not sister, she is a sister to Rajah's wife, Srirupa.

Thanks and regards,
Snehangshu Roy

VeeTea said...

Steph -- Thank you for your concern. I hope you can donate!

Snehangshu -- Oh, please excuse my typo! I've corrected the post now, and added an update.