Rebuild Rajah's Makaibari Home

Message from Rajah:
"We are overwhelmed with the generosity of support shown to us. Had the fire started just a few hours earlier at night, our lives may not have been spared. In the spirit of gratitude and revival, I am pledging your contributions towards the upliftment of the Makaibari community. I want to assure everyone that we are doing well and will use your support in projects that benefit the entire Makaibari community."

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COMMUNITY-WIDE APPEAL FROM JAMES NORWOOD PRATT:

"I am writing to you for help. Catastrophe has befallen a member of our tea community who is in urgent need of tangible expressions of support from us. Many of us are still not aware that fire destroyed the historic bungalow on Makaibari estate and Rajah and Srinupa Banerjee have lost all their possessions. Rajah was away in Calcutta and Srirupa had just sat down to lunch when the fire broke out.  It was a home many us know well, with its irreplaceable tropies and memorabilia accumulated over almost a century.  In the words of Srirupa's sister, Anupa Mueller:

"For over 20 years, Rajah and my sister, Srirupa, have opened their doors and provided warm and generous hospitality to countless folks in the tea industry, many from the U.S.  For the U.S. specialty tea community to show support now would be very appropriate. Nobody has done more for tea and for tea people over the years. He unstintingly welcomed everyone to his home, housed them, fed them, took them to Darjeeling, gave of his time and knowledge and now he has lost all earthly possessions. Many remember Rajah in his riding habit with boots and hat – all gone as are clothes, shoes, furniture, sheets, towels, toiletries, luggage, dishes, cups, teapots, books, laptops, TVs, files, cash, jewelry – you name it, all gone. Pictures of the horrific fire with only the walls left with charred interiors should tell the story of just how bad it is. A lifetime of accumulations and memories all gone and now they have to buy one item after another just to get through a normal day. In the first days, Srirupa literally lived and slept in the clothes she escaped with, for over 2 days. They had to struggle to find something with a picture on it so she had an ID to travel on a plane. She had nothing – they had to buy a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, comb, clothes, slippers and even a suitcase to travel with. Rajah only had a few changes of clothes and is having to purchase everything again. "
-- Anupa Mueller
Rajah is India's--if not the world's--first and foremost pioneer of organic tea. He has served the cause of sustainable farming all his life and each of us in the tea community has benefited from his endeavors. Let us acknowledge this indebtedness to our visionary friend in his hour of dire need. Please join me and hundreds of our colleagues in sending messages and donations of support to help sustain Rajah and Srinupa in their time of trial."
-- James Norwood Pratt

On March 16th, 2017,  the Heritage bungalow at the historic Makaibari Tea Estate was completely destroyed in a fire. 


Fortunately, no one was hurt and everyone made it out safely.  Srirupa Banerjee, wife of Rajah Banerjee, the 4th generation owner, was home at the time but was pulled to safety.  This was the home of the founding family of Makaibari, the Banerjees, and was full of priceless mementoes from over 80 different countries, as well as rare books and artifacts from the iconic estate's 150-year history. 

"The entire history is lost now," said a source at the plantation.  


The Makaibari Tea Estate was established in 1859 and the oldest tea estate in Darjeeling, India.  Unlike many other owners, the Banerjees lived on the estate.  


Makaibari is famous for its exotic blend of Darjeeling Teas and is among the world's most well-known brands. In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a gift of the estate's famous Makaibari Silver Tips Imperial Tea to Queen Elizabeth II of England during a diplomatic visit. 


The Banerjees themselves were well-known for their hospitality.  Rajah Banerjee would spend hours with guests, trekking through the garden and forests.


Rajah Banerjee views his escape as a chance to give back to the community and will direct your contributions to the upliftment of the Makaibari community.  They lost an important part of their history.  Show them your support!

Organizer

Anupa Mueller
Organizer
Elmsford, NY

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