GoodWeave Programs in Afghan Weaving Communities Empower and Protect

The following article was featured in GoodWeave's spring 2012 Newsletter.


Two groundbreaking GoodWeave programs will soon bring relief to Afghanistan’s weaving communities, thanks to support from the Khaled Hosseini Foundation, the UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Estelle Friedman Gervis Family Foundation and the dozens of supporters who donated to honor Iqbal Masih this spring.

Funding will primarily support GoodWeave’s first early childhood education program and daycare in Afghanistan, serving the children of women weavers in the northern Balkh Province. Daycare is a powerful tool for economic and social change, enabling women to concentrate on their work and earn more income while knowing their children are in a safe place. Meanwhile they provide Afghan boys and especially girls, who are often deprived of any kind of schooling, an educational foundation through structured play, basic literacy and peer social interaction, in turn preventing them for prematurely entering the workforce.

Afghan girl with siblingsAfghanistan’s needs are a natural fit for GoodWeave’s services—the carpet sector is the country’s largest legal source of employment and unfortunately, a third of elementary school-aged children work, including many who are sold into bonded labor, sexual exploited or subjected to early marriage. GoodWeave’s programs in Afghanistan work to break the cycle of poverty that is perpetuated when children compete with adults for the same jobs, kids don’t finish school, and a nation’s top export is undervalued in the marketplace.

“We have long been concerned with the issue of child labor in Afghanistan and are grateful for the opportunity to partner with GoodWeave,” said Sandra Hosseini, Executive Director of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation founded by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. “The opening of the early childhood education center in the Balkh Province is aligned with many of our other education partnerships in the region and we believe its impact will be truly significant for those children lucky enough to attend.”

GoodWeave has also formed a partnership with VisionSpring, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable eyeglasses to communities in need. VisionSpring has delivered 1,000 pairs of eyeglasses to Afghanistan, where GoodWeave will oversee a program of vision testing and eyeglass fitting for carpet weavers, who often suffer from eye strain as a result of repetitive work and poor lighting conditions. VisionSpring data shows that workers are 35 percent more productive once they have been outfitted with eyeglasses, leading to a 20 percent increase in their income.

As a member of the Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Carpet Sector Working Group, GoodWeave is providing input and technical assistance to help develop the industry’s national strategy. GoodWeave is currently launching carpet loom inspections in the Kabul Valley, with the aim of Afghan carpets bearing GoodWeave’s child-labor-free label in the U.S. marketplace in late 2012.

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At the age of five, Manju was already working on the rug looms. While she has since been found and freed from illegal carpet work, some 250,000 children throughout South Asia still toil in obscurity. Through GoodWeave nearly 3,600 kids like Manju have been rescued, rehabilitated and educated, and thousands more deterred from entering the work force.

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