"Mashamba yetu, Jamii zetu" (Our farms, our communities).
Our farms are located in remote hillsides of the Kenyan highlands. Over the years, they have become home to thousands of families, and one of the many things we do is provide schools and other amenities for their children, so that our communities can continue to prosper. In addition we are starting a new Williamson Tea Foundation, whose focus will be on funding projects to improve health and education facilities for everyone. Every cup of Williamson Tea benefits our communities directly.
Joseph Onkendi is a long serving expert in tea picking on Changoi farm. "I have always liked Changoi, and so do my children". He came to the farm in 1961 as a young boy and lived with his uncle. He started working in 1972 and remembers the excitement when the tea bushes he planted first began to flourish. Joseph has six children who were born and brought up here and educated in the local school, two of whom eventually joined him on the farm as employees.
About 60% of the 1,700 employees on Kapchorua live on the farm itself, along with their families. All our staff are provided with housing and are able to use the many facilities available, including three nursery schools, a primary school, two social clubs, shops and a dispensary. As with any local community, clubs and societies are active, especially the Kapchorua football association which hosts matches every Sunday.
Everlyne Omello joined Kaimosi at the age of 26 as a tea picker in 1984 and quickly rose through the ranks to become the farm's first female supervisor in 1985. "I got married while working at Kaimosi and we are blessed with one daughter. Being employed on the farm meant that I have been able to educate my daughter locally and later through nursing school. I am forever grateful to the farm, which has now employed my daughter in the health centre".
Tinderet may be a busy tea farm with state of the art manufacturing facilities, but the area has lost none of its natural beauty. Every day except Sundays, our pickers catch the cool of the dawn to collect the finest tips of the tea bush, ready for withering, rolling and packing, all in less than 24 hours. As with our other farms, a community has grown up around it since the first tea bushes were planted in the 1950's. Esther Ford, an expert tea picker, has had nine children while living here, all of whom were educated on the farm, and six of whom now work here. "I am Tinderet, and Tinderet is me", she says.