Life Opportunities

Best start in life for children

We support women and children in our agricultural supply chains so they can act on choices they make, have equal access to opportunities and better health, and to help protect them from violence and harassment.

Children living in remote tea communities often lack access to quality education, child protection measures, knowledge of their rights and adequate health facilities. From promoting attendance at school to providing access to initiatives working to prevent malnutrition and disease, we are working to give children in tea communities a better start in life.

Our partnership with Save the Children began in 2004, and since 2011 we have been supporting children in tea communities in Cangyuan county, Yunnan, in Western China.

Our multi-faceted approach embraces health, nutrition, education and protection while also supporting caregivers, the community and public services.

We have been working to enhance children’s health and reduce mortality rates of children under the age of five by training village healthcare providers, improving facilities and raising community awareness on important health issues including breastfeeding and nutrition.

"Clinical indicators, such as the rate of exclusive breastfeeding and the rate of early initiation of breastfeeding, are very important for a child to survive and thrive. With the support of this project, the IYCF [infant and young child feeding] indicators have improved dramatically, and we will sustainably promote the optimal IYCF practice even after the project ends. We will continuously utilise and promote the successful experience and practices achieved from the project to promote the child’s health and development of the entire county.”

Yang Weiyi
Director of Cangyuan MCH Care Hospital

We are also implementing a comprehensive package of early childhood development services and child protection systems to ensure that communities are equipped to give children the best possible start in life, with the aim of promoting a violence-free environment and leaving no child behind.

With UNICEF, we are working to improve the lives of the most vulnerable women and children living in 63 tea gardens in Assam, which have a total population of 350,000.

Since 2010, we have been partnering with UNICEF to improve access to nutrition and health services as well as boosting opportunities for young people living in tea gardens. Our programme has established several Adolescent Groups, through which girls in particular, benefit from weekly life skills training sessions which focus on building interpersonal skills, critical thinking, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

The aim of these groups is to help young people become more confident and help them make informed decisions, access better opportunities and protect themselves and their peers from all forms of harm.

These groups are complemented with monthly nutrition and health education sessions (from anaemia prevention and dietary diversification to improved hygiene practices), cooking demonstrations and counselling to improve iron and folic acid supplementation compliance. Kitchen gardens and health food shops have also increased community access to affordable and nutritious food and Child Protection Committees, which have been set up in each garden, have equipped community members with skills to protect children from violence, exploitation, and abuse.

What we have achieved

  • More than 23,000 children reached with health interventions. Within six years, our programme reduced the mortality rate of children under five in Cangyan county, China, from 43.1 per 1,000 live births to 10.8 per 1,000 live births, now lower than the national average and rate of exclusive breastfeeding under six months of age increased from 8.7% to 83.3%
  • Delivered training for 1,081 professional healthcare workers, who will continue reaching more children and caregivers.
  • Over 43,000 new mothers reached with message on the importance of nutrition in first 1000 days of life.
  • 68% of school dropouts re-enrolled in tea gardens in Assam, India, and 65 cases of child marriage averted in last three years.
  • 21% decline in the prevalence of anaemia in Assam, India following community-based interventions on nutrition, including distribution of iron folic acid and establishments of kitchen gardens
  • Strengthened child protection mechanisms and opened up dialogue within the community.
  • Over 500 books purchased for a school on tea garden in Kenya. Funds raised through an internal Twinings employee fundraising initiative to buy books benefitting over 300 children.

Ergai's story

Mother of one and tea farmer, Ergai, lives in Yunnan, a rural tea growing area of Western China.

In this remote and mountainous province, access to healthcare services is often limited and many children die before their fifth birthday.

Through Twinings’ Child Health project, Ergai has learnt to prepare nutritious food and feels that she now has a better understanding of how to take good care of her little girl.