Drinking Tea Now Has A Different Taste For Me

On our photo-tour of Uganda this past June, we drove through the tea fields in the Fort Portal area, along the Western Rift Valley.  My late aunt and her husband (also passed long ago) owned tea plantations and we happened to drive by the very one. 

I stopped and stood there mouth agape at the beautiful landscapes in front of me.  Carpets of tea leaves stretched forever into the distance and I could just imagine it pre-Idi Amin era when life in Uganda was peaceful and happy times were abound for my family.

Boy picking tea in Fort Portal Uganda

Boy picking tea in Fort Portal Uganda

I don’t speak of it often, but we and thousands of other Ugandan Asians were exiled by Idi Amin in 1972 and my aunt was forced to give up her plantations as were many other business people in Uganda at that time.  Going back brought back all the stories I grew up with and it was both disheartening to see what was left behind and amazing to see how much things have changed.  My parents have never been back so the stories, photos and new memories I am capturing help them to see the past and the present.

We drove through one of the biggest tea plantations and came across some boys and young men picking tea leaves under the hot day sun.  They work from sun-up to sun-down for a very small wage and live together in a hut across from the plantation.  It is enough to support themselves and their families but not necessarily put them through school.  That made me sad – hence why I do the work I do for the girls in Uganda.

View of the Western Rift Valley near Fort Portal, Uganda

View of the Western Rift Valley near Fort Portal, Uganda

I love tea – could be the British in me J  But drinking tea now has a different taste for me as I see how tea is grown, how it is picked and how the division of labour is not fair.