Dasoli Tanti breaks through resistance on the tea plantation in Assam
Dasoli Tanti lives in Assam. When she was asked to become educator on the tea plantation, a new world opened up for her.
‘We live here on the Saamoo Tea Estate with the six of us. I have three younger brothers and sisters. My mother works as a contract labourer on the plantation, and my father has a permanent job in the factory where the tea leaves are processed. He has always given me all the space I needed to study: including in situations where things were very tight financially. He has never put pressure on me to get married. I am very grateful to my father for this.
I studied Humanities (Economics, Englisch and Assamese) when the invitation came to work on the plantations as ‘sakhi’. This was a big opportunity for me. But it was also a challenge. We went door to door to talk to people and convince them to follow the cover protocols. ‘Face masks are a hype’ people often said to us. ‘We cannot afford it’. In the beginning, I was not taken seriously. I had to keep reminding myself that I am doing this work for the greater good, and that these challenges do not have to get to me personally.
What helped, was that it was the two of us going door to door. I learned how to talk to people with more conviction. When people had lost their face mask, I was able to give them a new one straight away.
Everyone on the plantation knows me now. I have learned a lot about education and working in a medical team. My confidence has grown. People take me seriously now. Of course, it is not comfortable to be wearing a face mask in a hot and humid climate. Now, however, we are able to use the right arguments and warn people in time.
In my family, the father is the ‘devatta’: he protects the family and has a special status. I have great appreciation for him. What is most special, is that thanks to this job, I am able to support our family financially.’