Redder than Red

Redder than Red

Sour, red, highly likeable and cumulatively beneficial – at Páty, in the tea workshop of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, employees with disabilities sort and package the Malteser hibiscus tea which ends up at markets and on the shelves of bio shops.

“One day I bumped into one of my colleagues in the corridor who told me that a huge amount of tea had arrived to the Charity Service. I said I couldn’t believe it and I wanted to see it. We went there, we had a look at it, and from that moment I knew that I had to deal with it.” – Edina Jakus, the coordinator of the tea factory, tells the story of the first meeting. Meanwhile our tea is being prepared. The water is steaming in our mugs that were made next door, in the ceramics factory, and the hot drink slowly starts to get its typical reddish colour. “I have always been a tea lover and I know that the tea is more precious if it’s made of bigger flowers and bigger leaves. This is one of the reasons why hibiscus tea took my breath away” – says Edina while sipping from the freshly made tea. We are at Páty, in the institute of the Charity Service, in the basement of a residence where the tea workshop is arranged more and more homelike by the workers.

Before choosing the tea, the enthusiastic team was thinking a lot about what area they should start in. They’ve wanted to create a product ? by employing disabled workers ? that is simple, usable and can be connected to the mentality of the Charity Service of the Order of Malta.
The tea seemed an optimal choice, what’s more, not a huge workshop had to be built up for the processing and a relatively small room was enough to start.
András Gaál started to participate at the process of product designing. “We bought several kinds of teas from various manufacturers. Then we compared the different packages used on the market. We were searching for a tea that is special and is not widely distributed yet. Thus we found the hibiscus tea, its red colour makes it even more »Malteser«” – András recalls.

The hibiscus tea arrived from Africa – the necessary quantity was imported directly from the place of origin. In the workshop there are four disabled workers and besides that, socially employed workers assist the work as well. “Workers can serve every workflow process from the beginning to the end” – tells Edina while giving me a tour in the workshop. The tea, which is to be sorted, is held in the warehouse and they only bring a quantity to the factory that would be processed. “There are a lot of things in the consignments which are not necessarily tea. It turns out only if we open a bag and start to take it apart” – says Edina, while at the sorting department she is showing me the boxes which are to be filled with different components. The seeds could be planted in the framework of a cooperation with a gardening. The flowers may make the ingredients of cocktails.

“Youngsters work in blocks in the workshop: seven hours per day is the maximum but everyone works as much as their health allows” – Edina tells me. “They face the same problems just like those who work at other workplaces. They simply need more encouragement and a little bit more dynamism.”

Tea is a tangible, measurable device and workers feel that their job makes sense. “Many superfluous things can be done by workers with disabilities only in order to make them spend time at their workplaces. I want them to feel that they are useful during their time here” – says the coordinator. “I let them know for example, when we send a thousand boxes of tea to the ministry. They always know what we are up to and on whose table will the hibiscus tea arrive.” Disabled workers are employed not only in the workshop but also in the management team: the uniquely designed boxes and stickers are the result of a long work by Szabolcs Bánlaki.

Although, at bigger supermarket chains we can’t meet the hibiscus tea on the shelves yet, the Malteser tea is marketed in several bio shops, the Ministry of Human Resources has ordered from them for the second successive year, the tea is transported to several regions of the Charity Service of the Order of Malta, and the products are sold at Christmas markets and summer festivals.

“In social work future planning doesn’t work well because it’s not the profit that matters but the employment. These things have to be merged and have to go hand in hand in order to proceed together in the same direction” – added Edina. We would like to put an emphasis on widening the range of products: the summer is the season of ice tea and in the future making hibiscus syrup and cookies with hibiscus jam are also parts of the plan. Meanwhile they won an employment tender which helped them to integrate a sieve workroom into their service. Thus youngsters living in the residence can learn new work stages and the list of products can be widened: also t-shirts and stickers can be produced which can flourish the marketing of the tea.

Réka Szakszon
Translated by: Petra Krsják

"Our young employees with disabilities simply need more encouragement and a little bit more dynamism."

Community being served:

  • Disabled Children and Adults