What a Cow Can Do For a Community
Dr. Kazi Anis Ahmed, the President and Co-Founder of Teatulia, always wanted to give back to his community in Bangladesh. In 2000, Dr. Ahmed and his family gave life to the Kazi & Kazi Tea Estate – which is where all of Teatulia’s organic teas and herbs are grown. As a part of the tea garden, the Ahmed’s started education, health, and cattle-lending programs for the workers of the garden and their neighbors. One of these programs is the Kazi & Kazi Tea Estate Ltd (KKTE) Cattle Cooperative.
Through this cooperative, workers of the Teatulia tea garden receive a milking cow that they pay for over time with milk and cow dung rather than money. The cow dung is used as fertilizer for the tea garden, and any surplus milk may be kept by the members for their own use or it may be sold at the local market. By using this system, many members of the cooperative pay off their cow within two to three years.
With the assistance of the co-op, the members are afforded benefits that they otherwise would not have had. Twice a week, the women at the garden are offered – while being paid – to learn to read, count and write their names. During a visit to the garden, Teatulia’s Don Peck had a chance to see the program in action. “Each with a small chalkboard to practice on, they went up in front of the class, to show us how they had learned to write their names. Literacy programs took on a new meaning for me as we listened to their pride. What struck me the most was the down to earth reasons they gave for learning. ‘So that they couldn’t be cheated out of money’, ‘So they could sign their name instead of giving a thumb print’. I’m awed by their courage and in the difference this garden has made in the lives of the community. “
One Bangladeshi mother, Laili Begum, dreamt of a better life for her children, and she knew that a world of opportunities would unfold for them if they were educated. Unfortunately, like many Bangladeshi families, Laili and her husband did not have the funds to send their children to school. However, after joining and working with the KKTE cooperative, she eventually achieved her dream. She is now able to see her children off to school every morning. As of today, Laili and her family have received several cows that she has been able to pay for through the simple bartering system provided by the co-op.
Every Teatulia Tea drinker, whether they know it or not, is contributing to this great cooperative and helping more dreams come true everyday.