Home-stay tourism project at Makaibari tea estate

Guests at home means money in the pocket that can be spent to send the children to school.

The success of the home-stay project at Makaibari Tea Estate, 3 km from here, is helping workers there earn that extra little bit that enables them to look after their children’s education. As Robin Khawas, the coordinator of the home-stay project, put it: “The tourist flow has helped residents here both in terms of economy as well as education. There have been months when we have been able to earn around Rs 6,000, which is a lot compared to garden wages. The additional income is used to send the children to school.”

Shila Tamang, a labourer in the garden who is part of the project, concurred: “We earn around Rs 2,000 from the garden, which is just enough to maintain the family. The home-stay project has helped me bear the cost of my children’s education. The highest I have earned in a single month is Rs 5,000 some time last year. Otherwise, we earn anything between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,500 per month.”

The project started at the garden about two years ago with 15 houses spread over seven villages providing accommodation to tourists. Room tariff is as little as Rs 300 per day, including food. Of it, Rs 50 goes to the emergency fund of the joint body committee set up by the members of the project.

The committee has so far collected Rs 9,000, said Khawas, which means the total revenue has been over Rs 50,000 in two years.

So what can tourists expect when they decide to stay with a worker’s family at Makaibari? “If you get used to the common toilets and lack of running water, then it is wonderful,” said a foreign backpacker who stayed there for a while. “They serve you traditional food and even put up cultural programmes in the evenings for entertainment. And best of all, you are right in the lap of nature.”

Source: The Telegraph