As I approached the looms, the woman nearest to me scooted over and patted the bench next to her for me to sit down. All day I'd been wanting to try to do the weaving myself. Without aid of a common language, my new friend very patiently showed me how to do the carpet weaver's knot. This kinship, this connection with textile artisans from around the world, is a wonderful feeling. It reaches back through the centuries, binds us together in the present, and will flow through us to future generations.
In early February, I journeyed to Nepal with fellow board member and weaver Mary Zicafoose to witness the good work of GoodWeave programs firsthand. Our first stop was GoodWeave's Kathmandu rehabilitation center for rescued child weavers. A boarding school with space for about 100 girls and boys, the center is bright and sunny, with a large play yard, bunkrooms for sleeping, a kitchen, three classrooms, and a computer lab. There are about 45 children enrolled, and all were concentrating hard on their studies.
The next visit was to a GoodWeave-sponsored daycare center for children aged two to five whose parents work in nearby carpet factories. From the two-year-olds cuddled asleep on large mats for naptime to older children seated at bright child-sized tables, this was a cheerful place full of smiling kids. The finger puppets Mary distributed to the children were met with squeals of delight.
We also visited The Lab School, one of Nepal's top private boarding schools. Some 15 former child weavers, rescued from carpet factories when they were young and sponsored by GoodWeave ever since, currently attend this elite boarding school. The Lab School admits "GoodWeave kids" who meet its academic rigor, and provides them with a scholarship co-funded by GoodWeave. These teenagers were polite, well-spoken, and extremely appreciative. After much conversation and photo opportunities, one of the boys asked to sing a Nepali folk song for us. His voice-sweet, and clear and strong-rang out as his classmates listened in respectful silence.
As weavers and dyers ourselves, we were eager to see carpets being made. We visited several GoodWeave-licensed facilities, like the one referenced in the first paragraph, all of which are routinely inspected by GoodWeave and are staffed only by of-age workers.
Carpet weaving is an art form, worked by artisans. It is a crime and a shame that for so long children have been exploited by unscrupulous producers in this field. But, thanks to GoodWeave, this is changing. Having witnessed this transformation for ourselves, and having seen so many happy, healthy children in GoodWeave social programs, our dedication as directors is redoubled. We couldn't more proud.
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GoodWeave Executive Director