Self-help groups provide tea plantation workers with additional income through livelihood projects such as dressmaking. Photo: Juan Emilio Hernandez/CJI

Tea plantation workers in North Bengal, India, are often deprived of their rights and subjected to exploitation by plantation managers as well as government agencies.

The Human Life Development and Research Centre (HLDRC), a project of the Jesuit Darjeeling Province, addresses these injustices with support from Canadian Jesuits International. Its programs empower workers, especially those from Indigenous, tribal, and scheduled caste groups, so that they can actively participate in the social, economic, and political decision-making process, become self-reliant, and live with dignity.

To help cushion the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the HLDRC has launched 37 study centres, a free non-formal education for children of Adivasi/Indigenous tea workers in the Darjeeling, Japaiguri and Alipurduar districts of West Bengal.

Here are some highlights of HLDRC’s impact for fiscal year 2022-2023: