Throughout South Asia, hundreds of thousands of children are exploited as child labourers within the carpet industry. Growing trends in rural poverty, combined with an increase in the economic migration of adult workers leaving the carpet industry suggest this is an ever increasing problem.
Kidnapped or sold into the industry, children between 8- to 14-years-old often face working days of up to 18 hours and are subject to malnutrition, impaired vision and risk of deformities from sitting in cramped conditions for long durations. They are also highly vulnerable to the possibility of trafficking.
Nepal GoodWeave Foundation offers a model which leads to better practice within the industry by using a holistic approach that works to prevent child labour and provide rehabilitation of children in the carpet industry.
Participating companies who abide by GoodWeave's strict 'no child labour' guidelines are issued with a unique, traceable certification label for their carpets, and are inspected through regular and thorough monitoring. The Foundation also rescues child weavers from non-compliant factories and offers them rehabilitation into the wider community through education, vocational training and eventual job placements. Child labour prevention programmes complete its approach, with a focus on education and health of carpet workers, their children and family members.
Since its inception in 1995, Nepal GoodWeave Foundation has successfully brought more than half of the carpet industry into its inspection programme, with the goal of reaching 70% by 2014. They have also freed more than 3,000 child labourers. Central to these results is the voice given to these children at the heart of the issue, incorporating their feedback into future strategy and programmes, and giving them a choice in their rehabilitation options.
Since receiving the Impact Award, Nepal GoodWeave Foundation has been doing remarkable work in the fight against child labour. Funding has supported their centre-based and community-based rehabilitation programmes. These initiatives involve the removal, rehabilitation and reintegration of displaced carpet child workers with appropriate education and vocational training. These programmes run alongside its preventative programme which provides literacy classes, day care services and teaching.
Thanks to the award, Nepal GoodWeave has been able to run three day care centres in carpet factories for the children of the carpet workers, as well as sponsoring children through school. The organisation has also provided health services through medical clinics and mobile medical camps for carpet workers and their children. Finally, Nepal GoodWeave established a training centre for adults to become skilled carpet workers to address the lack of skilled manpower in the carpet industry.
As part of its consultancy spending, GoodWeave invested in creaing a more sustainable and effective fundraising department where staff received training in the English language and proposal writing.
In order to strengthen the child rescue and rehabilitation programme, training on child psychology, rights for children, report writing and presentation skills was given to counsellors, teachers and staff at the organisation.
Photos: Kristian Buus