With the support of our dedicated family of supporters and industry partners, we are transforming the US market to bring us nearer to the end of child labor in the South Asian handmade rug industry.
In 2009, we increased U.S. market share for rugs certified by us to have been made without illegal child labor from 3.2 to 4.2 percent. This 30 percent growth stands in encouraging contrast to the overall 41 percent decline in the U.S. market. This economically difficult year has proven the motivating strength of our certification, and reinforced our belief that consumers will make ethical choices in their purchasing when given information and opportunity.
Also in 2009, 14 locations welcomed our Faces of Freedom photograph exhibition, co-sponsored by the US Fund for UNICEF, and featuring images by renowned photographer and humanitarian U. Roberto Romano. The installations were visited by 18,000 attendees, with 10,000 on-line viewers to date. The tour culminated with year-end installations at the Miami International Airport and the World Bank, with introductory remarks by University of Miami President Donna Shalala and Nepal's Ambassador Shankar Sharma, respectively.
Our transformative effect on the market is preventing children from being exploited. In addition, we provide direct assistance on the ground. In 2009, our inspectors in Nepal rescued 83 child laborers from carpet looms, and 3,400 emancipated and at-risk children are enrolled in school under our educational sponsorships.
In 2010, our new GoodWeave certification launches, with a renewed outreach campaign: The GoodWeave Campaign to End Child Labor. Our GlobalGiving project will shortly be revised to reflect this reinvigorated campaign, and the expanded impact for which GoodWeave brings promise. Soon, in addition to providing your best assurance that a handmade rug is child-labor-free, the GoodWeave certification will include other humanitarian and environmental criteria, from living wages for of-age workers to environmental benchmarks for waste products.
We are also shifting the GlobalGiving country categorization to Nepal, where we inspect 50 percent of carpet production facilities, in order for donors and other interested individuals to readily find us. Our work in Nepal was recently exemplified by a visit paid to our Kathmandu rehabilitation center for rescued child weavers by the principal of Creative Matters, one of our devoted industry partners.
She spent a sunny afternoon on the center’s rooftop, teaching a painting class to 33 of our children. As she describes:
"I instructed them to paint themselves in a setting that they liked and, WOW, the results were amazing…One boy painted the RugMark house that they all currently live in, with him on the roof flying a kite…Gorgeous work. And they were so proud of themselves. I couldn't take enough pictures of them holding their artworks. It was absolutely lovely."
Photographs of these incredible children and their works of art are attached. In 2010 and beyond, we hope to do even more for them--and for the 250,000 remaining child laborers in South Asia's carpet industry.
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GoodWeave Executive Director