Helping Kids Beat the Odds

By Nina Smith, GoodWeave USA Executive Director

Sanju Maya

Sanju Maya at Hamro Ghar, May 2012. © U. Roberto Romano.

The first thing I noticed about Sanju Maya—the first child rescued by GoodWeave in 2012—was her hands. I met Sanju Maya only weeks after she was found by our inspectors in Kathmandu. At 11, Sanju Maya has the body of an eight-year-old and hands of an 80-year-old, scarred from countless hours of clutching sharp rug making tools. Sanju Maya worked as a bonded laborer, weaving carpets from four in the morning until eight at night.

GoodWeave rescued her on January 13th, and already her life is on a new and hopeful course. She is now the first person in her family to go to school, and with GoodWeave's support, she’s doing it debt-free. In the snapshots taken at Hamro Ghar, Nepal GoodWeave Foundation’s residential center for rescued child weavers, Sanju Maya is surrounded by peers who “love her like a real sister,” evident from the girls’ arms draped around one another. However, it’s important to remember that like the physical scars still evident on her hands, there are emotional scars too—and those can take even longer to heal.

Thanks to GoodWeave, Sanju Maya beat the odds: according to an International Labor Organization report released this month, half of the 21 million forced laborers working in the word today are toiling in Asia, and a quarter are children. But the true power of our model is that it works to prevent forced child labor before it occurs—so girls like Sanju Maya don’t have to bear any scars at all.

Our random, surprise inspections of looms in Nepal, India and soon Afghanistan are an effective deterrent. Programs like GoodWeave’s daycare and scholarships for the children of adult weavers are also a powerful tool for prevention, providing a safe place for kids to learn and play rather than prematurely joining their parents in the carpet factories.

Thanks to our carpet industry members and other supporters, incidence of child labor sector-wide is down 75 percent; 3,700 children have been rescued from servitude and 10,600 kids have received an education. Together, we are not only helping girls like Sanju Maya beat the odds, but also change the odds for the better, and for good.


Click here to learn how you can help GoodWeave end child labor, here to purchase a certified child-labor-free carpet or here to read more about Sanju Maya.

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You can help us end child labor and transform the lives of the thousands of children trapped in carpet work by making a tax-deductible (USA only) donation today. Every dollar makes a difference.

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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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