|Beautiful Tea plants|
Last week I visited along with other people the tea plantations that the Finlay Company owns at Srimongol, northeast of Bangladesh. There I have seen that in the 21st century slavery (or semi-slavery) still exists in the world. Workers in the tea plantations, working 8 hours a day, receive a salary of 48 takas (less than 50 cents of Euro a day). They live in houses (houses?) belonging to the company. They have the right to live in these houses while they work on the plantations, otherwise they are expelled. It is allowed only one person per family to work in the plantations, implying that the 48 takas are the daily family wage, not the person wage. We can easily understand that it is impossible to save any money, so that they cannot leave and go to another place; people in the tea gardens stay chained to the Company for ever. If a worker dies, another member of the family may take place; there have been cases of children who were studying at secondary school, for whom a better future seemed to be open, which have had to drop out of school because their father or mother died and had to replace them on the plantation, else the family would be expelled.
All I say of Finlay Company applies for all other companies having tea plantations in Bangladesh. It is a shame; I'm outraged. The Marist Brothers want to do something to bring this people out of their plight and are going to build a secondary school for their sons and daughters. It will be a long, difficult and expensive process, but we will try. They are the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh and it is worth it, with the help of God.