GoodWeave USA

GoodWeave's mission is to end exploitative child labor in the carpet industry and to offer educational opportunities to children in weaving communities. The GoodWeave label is your best assurance that no child labor was used in the manufacture of a rug. The organization was founded on this premise: If enough people demand certified child-labor-free rugs, manufacturers will only employ adult artisans and the exploitation of children in the industry will end.
Mar 14, 2011

From Slave to Student, Narayan is One in a Million

While his elementary school peers repeated addition and subtraction drills in a classroom each day, Narayan wove knot after knot at a Kathmandu carpet loom. For eight years of his early life, Narayan was a bonded child laborer without access to education, toiling up to fifteen hours a day.

Now a bright, friendly high school student at one of Nepal’s most prestigious private schools, Narayan is an articulate student and a natural leader. Narayan was rescued from the factory by the nonprofit organization GoodWeave, which works to eradicate exploitative child labor from South Asia’s rug industry and provide educational opportunities for these young children.

“Because of GoodWeave, now I have a pen in my hand instead of working tools, knowledge in my mind and confidence towards life,” says the student. Narayan’s friends from GoodWeave’s rehabilitation center “think of their time as child laborers in the carpet industry as the dark age of their life. Now they really understand the power of confidence and dignity in life, and they know they deserve these things,” he explains.

GoodWeave’s new One in a Million campaign was inspired by the one million children who, like Narayan, were illegally working in the carpet-making industry when GoodWeave began in 1994. The campaign seeks to create awareness and build demand for the handmade rugs GoodWeave certifies as child-labor-free, ultimately eliminating this “dark age” practice from the industry.

Through the GoodWeave certification program, local inspectors in Nepal and India visit licensed manufacturers on a surprise, random basis. Companies that join GoodWeave and meet its strict no-child-labor standards are issued GoodWeave labels for their carpets, each bearing a unique, traceable number. When inspectors do find children working at the looms, they are rescued and provided free schooling, room and board, and counseling, among other critical services.

GoodWeave works to not only get children off the looms and back into schools, but otherwise help families overcome the barriers that keep them from putting and keeping their children from school. For example, the organization also sponsors education for children found to be at risk for carpet work, and provides daycare for the children of adult weavers to help prevent their children from ending up on the looms. Since GoodWeave’s founding in 1994, child labor in South Asia’s rug industry is down 75 percent, to an estimated 250,000.

By seeking out GoodWeave certified rugs, consumers can use their purchasing power help bring the number of child weavers to zero. And given the precarious state of the rug industry, rug buyers have more leverage than ever in the marketplace. From 2007 to 2010, the U.S. market for imported handmade rugs dropped a record 46 percent, as consumers bought fewer and cheaper rugs. Meanwhile, the price of key materials, such as high-quality Himalayan wool, is soaring.

In such dire market conditions, rug companies could easily be tempted to employ children (who typically earn a fraction of an adult wage) to lower prices and boost profits. And it’s even easier for companies to justify cutting corners by skimping on third-party inspections and monitoring services. Yet without the rigorous system of checks and balances provided by an independent organization like GoodWeave, the exploitation of children will remain in the shadows, far from view of not only consumers but often even the companies selling the rugs themselves.

Companies can do the right thing by becoming members of GoodWeave’s certification program, ensuring that the rugs they produce and sell are child-labor-free. While GoodWeave’s low company membership fees help to pay for inspections and social programs for weaving communities, on average, the fees are typically the equivalent of just a few dollars on the cost of each rug, and don’t come close to covering the full of its operations in Nepal and India. As a result, GoodWeave relies on donations for much of its funding.

Consumers can incentivize companies to do the right thing by only buying handmade rugs that bear the GoodWeave label. Their purchase sends a signal down the supply chain that a child’s life is more valuable than a few dollars’ bargain. A GoodWeave certified rug is truly one in a million, not only because of its handmade beauty will last a lifetime, but also because its purchase helps kids like Narayan enjoy the life of freedom that every child deserves.

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Dec 17, 2010

Reflections on the past year, through the eyes of Kusum

Kusum, in her school uniform
Kusum, in her school uniform

By early 2009, 12-year-old Kusum had already been working four years at the carpet looms near Kathmandu, Nepal, following in the paths of her two older sisters. All three of them, in fact, had been sold by their alcoholic father to labor brokers – Kusum was worth only $14 to her father. Besides being separated from her sisters, Kusum grew up without her mother, who died as a result of her father’s violence.

Kusum endured the harsh conditions of the carpet factory, toiling hour upon hour, day after day, with little hope that anything would ever change. But on March 9, 2009, it finally did. A GoodWeave inspector found her, rescued her, and brought her to a GoodWeave rehabilitation center.


Today, Kusum is 13 years old. She has started school, and spends her days studying, playing and talking with children her own age. For the first time in her life, Kusum is happy. 

In a recent report from Bahadure, a GoodWeave factory inspector in Nepal, he talks about how individual children like Kusum are helped through rehabilitation and schooling:

“At first, when they were brought to Hamro Ghar (Our Home - the GoodWeave rehabilitation center), most of them were shy, frightened, and physically weak due to the exploitation... they have become confident, recouped their energies and spirit, and now speak and interact without hesitations and fear. They find ways and opportunities to bring out their hidden talents and show the world they are no less than children from rich families.”

GoodWeave is proud of Kusum and the courage and confidence she has developing since her rescue almost two years ago. In the below video, Kusum tells part of her story in her own words.

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Sep 1, 2010

A story and a song from Prem, Kathmandu, Nepal

Prem, Kathmandu, Nepal
Prem, Kathmandu, Nepal

GoodWeave USA Executive Director Nina Smith from a two-week field visit to the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, where she visited our local partners and caught up with dozens of GoodWeave children in day care, residential rehabilitation, and inschool. One of them, Prem, sang to us in a voice that was bold and resonant – a video of his singing can be viewed on our YouTube page, linked below – and shared his story:

Prem is in the 10th grade at Nepal’s prestigious Laboratory School under our sponsorship. A friendly, outgoing, and charismatic teenager, you’d never guess that six years ago Prem was toiling at a Kathmandu carpet loom, far from his family in rural Nepal.

Rescued at just nine years old by GoodWeave inspectors, Prem made up for stolen years of basic education at our residential rehabilitation center. Next, he enrolled at the Lab School, where he now studies accounting and economics. He’s his class captain, helping maintain a peaceful environment by solving problems with his classmates. He told us he likes soccer, basketball, and poetry. And he said this: “If GoodWeave weren’t there, we’d still be in the carpet factory”.

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