Raj, former child weaver turned teacher
As the kids in our lives go back to school this month, we at GoodWeave can’t help but think about the children in Asia who won’t – including some 250,000 boys and girls weaving a rug as you read this.
Education can decide a child’s future – yet many kids in the weaving communities where we operate have no such choice. Government-run schools in Nepal and India are often inaccessible, contributing to a 40 percent illiteracy rate. Many parents face hard choices between having their children walk miles to attend a poor-quality school, or putting them to work making bricks, glass or rugs, which offers the lure of a more immediate pay-off for the family.
With your support, this project breaks down the barriers to education, in turn breaking the vicious cycle of poverty that entraps generations of families. “Education is the basic element of life,” said Raj Kumari, a rescued child weaver. “Ten years ago I was weaving carpets in a dark room, but today I am a teacher, bringing the light of education to kids who suffered like me.” Rescued by GoodWeave in 1997 at age 11, today Raj is a teacher and caretaker at Hamro Ghar (our home), GoodWeave’s rehabilitation center in Nepal.
Though Raj’s path is extraordinary, it is not unusual. Many children come to Hamro Ghar having little formal education and many strikes against them in life, but with support from GoodWeave and GlobalGiving, they often leap-frog through our accelerated learning program and go on to higher education or vocational programs. Given their drive to succeed and use the “golden chance” given them, they often perform just as well if not better on standardized tests, according to Ganga Battharai, Hamro Ghar’s residential social worker and counselor.
“Many of the ‘carpet kids’ have had devastating childhoods, enduring beatings, neglect, sexual abuse, the loss of parental figures and other forms of trauma,“ said Ganga. “These children transform during their stay at Hamro Ghar in so many ways. They develop a positive outlook on their future and their own self-worth. They learn their legal rights and acquire life skills like negotiating and critical thinking. Many develop talent in sports, academics and other activities they didn’t know they had.”
Hamro Ghar (and Bal Vikas Ashram, its equivalent in India) sets the children up for success with a stable, supportive environment, providing nutritious meals, comfortable lodging, individualized counseling and education, and plenty of recreational opportunities. Yet this is just one of many forms of educational support we provide. In addition to rescued child weavers, GoodWeave serves at-risk kids and children of adult artisans with programs to include early childhood education, residential-based schooling, scholarships for top private schools and vocational training. Since GoodWeave’s founding in 1994, a total of 10,600 have received the life-changing gift of education.
No matter what road a child chooses with GoodWeave and GlobalGiving at their side, these educational opportunities offer a better life not only for the child but also for future generations. “I am providing my daughter a good education so that she would not be a child laborer like me. I cannot imagine having another child unless I can afford his or her education,” said Raj, who is now married with a six-year-old girl. “I didn’t know how important education was until I had it.”