In 2006, RugMark inspectors in India, Nepal and Pakistan identified and freed 144 child carpet weavers, bringing the total number of rescued children to over 3,000. Every boy and girl found working is offered the opportunity to reunite with their families and get an education. RugMark’s role is to ensure these students have the support needed to stay in the classroom and off the carpet loom and feel empowered to weave their own futures.
A glimpse into the lives of two former carpet slaves tells the true story of what RugMark, with your support, has made possible. Punil and Bhola are both from Bihar, India’s poorest state where nearly 50 percent live below the poverty line and illiteracy and infant mortality rates soar. Devastating poverty and extreme corruption have made Bihar the primary source point for trafficked children who end up working in various industries in India, including carpet weaving.
Punil and Bhola fell victim to this system of modern-day slavery and worked as rug laborers until RugMark inspectors found them in 1997 and 1998, respectively. They were both admitted to the Balashraya Center for Child Laborers, and after completing their formal education and vocational training, Punil and Bhola qualified for instructor openings in RugMark’s tailoring training program.
While much progress has been made over the past year in India, the number of children rescued from rug factories and enrolled in schools is directly related to how many Western companies and consumers care about the issue. RugMark USA's office is leading a new campaign to educate shoppers to look for the RugMark label and pressuring companies to join the certification program.
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