Children's Stories: Sanju

Sanju playing twisterBorn to a destitute family, young Sanju was sent to work in a rug factory in Kathmandu. Like tens of thousands of other “carpet kids” throughout South Asia, Sanju was exploited for her tiny, nimble fingers that were considered ideal for the intricate motions required for weaving. And like most child laborers around the world, Sanju received no compensation for her toil—she was a virtual slave. She went to sleep each night, wondering if tomorrow would ever be different.

That day came when a GoodWeave inspector found her and brought her to Hamro Ghar (“our home”), a rehabilitation center in Kathmandu. Today, Sanju is experiencing many firsts—from school to sports. She is pensive, but with an authentic laugh and has grown to be a mentor to the other young girls.

In the summer of 2012, the residents at Hamro Ghar participated in an art therapy exercise. The watercolor seen below offers a glimpse into that transformative moment when freedom awakens in a child. According to Sanju, it represents her journey from the grueling, stunting, unjust work of being a child laborer—to the happy, healthy girl you see now.

Sanju watercolor

This is the actual watercolor that Sanju drew in the summer of 2012. She described to the teacher that both of the images are her—the one without arms was her in the past and today she is fully formed.