Breaking the Education Barrier

“GoodWeave works to end Nepal child labor,” originally broadcast on CNN International. 

Education can decide a child’s future – yet many kids in the weaving communities where GoodWeave operates 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.

GoodWeave programs break 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. She has also taught literacy to adult carpet weavers.

Raj Kumari

Raj Kumari, former child weaver, now teaches
at Hamro Ghar

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 they often leap-frog through GoodWeave’s 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 GoodWeave provides. 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’s support, 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.”

Click here to read about GoodWeave's newest educational program, Project Muskan, supported in part by Procter & Gamble.

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Children's Stories

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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