We still have a bit of motion ahead of us, but in a few short days, the next phase of our journey will begin. We know very little about the three-month volunteer assignment that lies ahead â€” only a few snippets regarding our site and work from scattered, last-minute e-mails. This paucity of information might be frustrating for some, but for the Tranquilo Traveler (and his lovely wife), it’s all pretty exciting.
Here is an article on the tea plantation workers describing the background of the situation in which we will soon be immersed.
Here is what little we know regarding our work and living arrangements:
“Joshua and Sutay will be placed at a small town called Birpara and will be working in the plantations nearby (Birpara is in northern West Bengal near the Jaldhapara Wildlife Sanctuary, about 140 miles from Darjeeling and just south of the Bhutan border). They will be studying the nutritional stats of tea plantation workers who have just recovered from a long period of closure, which has led to hunger and even starvation deaths. Sutay could focus especially on the nutritional status of women and infants who have gone through this crisis.
We can hire a small house for them there. They would have a couple with them, Sharmishtha and Debashis, who have already done some work in the plantations. This couple would work with them as translators and local guides. They can also help with the study. It would be best if all four persons stayed in one house for security reasons
The volunteers would be required to travel to the plantations and back, generally by a hired car/motorcycles as public transport is almost absent in the area.
There is no ‘office’ as such in Birpara, but there is very basic space to work from. Email and the Net tend to be a problem there. However there is a full fledged office here at Madhyamgram and we may have to make an arrangement where Josua and Sutay come back here occassionally if office work is needed to be done.”