The high point of the Festival was the honouring of two ‘icons’ from the tea community, one each from the fields of Literature and Culture. Ms Padumi Gazloo, a renowned writer was chosen by the APPL Foundation as the Literary Icon for Sirish 2015 while Mr Sajan Nayak, a popular singer and music composer from the community was chosen as the Cultural Icon for Sirish 2015.
Rishab Kumar, a 17-year old boy reported to the hospital in Namroop tea estate with complaints of back ache and pain in his right pelvis after playing a game of football. After a few visits and with the pain not subsiding, Rishab was referred from the estate hospital to RHRC in Chubwa. After many rounds of testing he was diagnosed with Bone Cancer (Ewing Sarcoma in the right pelvis). The Medical Director of RHRC referred him to Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, knowing that he would have the chance to avail the best possible treatment there.
Kushal Limbo took admission in the cookery class at VTC, Dam Dim, because he was inspired by his father. His father is the cook at the estate Senior Manager’s bungalow and everyone speaks very highly of his cooking. While Kushal has always looked up to his father, he also wanted to do something different with his passion for cooking. He knew he couldn’t afford to go any hotel management institute as they charge Rs. 3-4 Lakhs as course fees. Kushal had to come up with a plan which would be feasible yet allow him the opportunity to explore new avenues.
Fate dealt Mahmooda a cruel hand. Only 26 years old but she has seen how harsh the world can be. While still in school, her father married her off, as is the regular practice with so many young girls in this country. She stayed with her husband and in-laws for one and a half years, enduring their abuse and making peace with the fact that this was how her life was going to be from here on. Finally, her father decided to bring her out of that hell. She and her family are now fighting a protracted legal battle to ensure that she receives the alimony that is due to her.
Sagar’s mother brought up his younger sister and him with great difficulty. She is the only parent they have known. Depending on agriculture as a source of income, this family of three knows only too well what it means to have to struggle to survive. Sagar found out about the ITI in Rowta from some friends in the village. As a child, he was always interested in learning about machines and how they worked so it seemed a natural thing for him to do when he decided to appear for the entrance examination.
Krishna Rabha’s closely knit family of four resides in a village 40 km away from APPITI, Rowta. His father is a daily wage earner while his mother takes care of the household. Living in a small house and within meagre means, their parents had ensured that both Krishna and his elder brother went to school. Their own life experiences had taught them that without proper education, the fate of their children would most likely resemble their own. They never wanted that for Krishna and his brother.
Devika Bora talks about the Rungamuttee Ladies Craft Centre
UNICEF and ETP have come together to launch an initiative with the objective of increasing knowledge, skills and confidence of young people, particularly girls in tea communities; improving their ‘life skills’ and protection within their communities; thereby increasing the options open to them and enabling them to make informed decisions about their future. Namroop tea estate of Amalgamated Plantations was one such garden where this programme was conducted and an adolescent girls club, Muskaan Club, was formed.
Dipak Kalindi’s family migrated from Purulia district in West Bengal four generations ago. Born and brought up on the gardens, he thinks of himself as a ‘local’ in Assam. While Dipak works as an office clerk in Hattigor estate, his passion lies elsewhere. From childhood, he was drawn towards more creative pursuits but with several mouths to feed at home and being an only son, he had to push aside all such desires. Whenever he could spare some time, he would find himself sketching or doodling on a piece of paper.
At the prospect of a better means of livelihood, and consequently, a better life, Ranjit’s grandparents travelled from Orissa to the tea garden in Hatigarh, Assam. Here, they worked in the garden as pluckers, never returning to the place they once called home. His parents were born and raised here on the garden and followed in the same footsteps as the earlier generation. Soon after the children arrived, Ranjit’s mother, Suborno Tanti, retired as a tea-plucker to take care of the family while his father, Bistu Tanti, moved between different jobs on the garden for years.