As part of its continuing commitment to enhance the quality of life of its employees attached to the estates, Bogawantalawa Tea Estates PLC intensified its water access project to reach 500 families in 2014.
True to its commitment, the company has collaborated with World Vision to embark on a water-related initiative at Bogawana, one of its 11 tea estates. The Rs. 22 million project, partly funded by Bogawantalawa Tea Estates, seeks to address many drinking water-related issues in Bogawana including dwindling water supplies during the dry season and conflicts arising among community residents from having to share water facilities.
It would see the laying of individual pipe-borne water lines, upgrading of water tanks and installation of water meters for each home and benefit people from 390 families, a school, a pre-school and a Child Development Centre.
Fulfilling drinking water-related needs of its community, Norwood Estate, which also comes under the purview of Bogawantalawa Tea Estates, took the initiative to provide access to clean drinking water to 110 families, 500 schoolchildren and a Child Development Centre. This was supported by Berendina Development Services and was also partly funded by the company. Further, the company distributed water filters and heaters among children of its Child Development Centres of Poyston Estate, with a view to providing the children access to safe drinking water.
“Despite financial constraints, many Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) have been steadfast in their commitment to improve the livelihoods of workers in their estates and their children,” Bogawantalawa Tea Estates CEO, Jayampathy Molligoda said. “We believe that access to safe drinking water is a priority which must be fulfilled and we will continue to strive towards that goal to provide safe drinking water to residents of our estates.”
As part of its nutritional agenda, Bogawantalawa Tea Estates provided a drinking supplement such as milk, malted energy drinks, porridge etc. to all employees of its estates, while children were provided with well-balanced breakfasts and lunches at the estates’ child development centres. Awareness programmes on the benefit of a well-balanced meal were also conducted for workers and their children. Combined, the nutritional programmes have yielded positive results, with anaemia prevalence among employees declining significantly, based on recent medical screening.
Strengthening its commitment to the education of the children of its employees, Bogawantalawa, which practices a stringent ‘zero child labour’ policy, offered its support by providing school bags and stationery to 1,300 schoolchildren living in its estates, at the beginning of this year. Furthermore, the company, in collaboration with Netherlands based Superunie, built and handed over a Child Development Centre worth Rs. 3.5 million which was opened last year at Norwood Estate. The new centre is a significant improvement from the previous location used for the purpose and now accommodates approximately 40 children.
Bogawantalawa Tea Estates placed emphasis on approximately 100 differently-abled children living in its estates, by funding physiotherapy for these children, which is carried out with the support of MENCAFEP, an NGO. Parallel to providing physiotherapy, the company has embarked on an ambitious project supported by the ‘Lanka Mother and Child Support Foundation (LM&CSF)’ – a charitable foundation under its parent company, ‘Mertrocorp’ – and by ‘Liliane Fonds’ in the Netherlands and its donors. According to Shaleen Johar, Programme Coordinator/LM&CSF, “This initiative empowers the differently-abled children of Bogawantalawa estates to become independent through a self-sustaining disability management team.”
Required training for this task is now being provided to the welfare staff of the company by MENCAFEP and Navajeevana (another NGO working with disabled children), which will equip them to recommend necessary action, conduct community-based rehabilitation programmes and therapy services etc.
At the 12 medical camps conducted by the company since 2014, medical services including consultations with physicians, screening of pregnant women, first aid workshops, and issuing of medicine was provided completely free of charge for workers and members the community. Due to inadequacy of eye-care related medical services in some estate areas, Bogawantalawa Tea Estates carried out many eye-clinics targeting the elderly, thus enabling them to undergo eye check-ups and cataract surgeries. The company also organized a number of ‘well women clinics,’ at which expectant mothers were able to undergo screening for womb cancer as well as meet with family planning specialists.