Thursday, 29 April 2010

Carpets par excellence from Afghanistan

Afghanistan makes headline news around the world. Not a day goes by without some reporter calling it, “the most dangerous place on earth,” as they report on the fighting, death and destruction there.

But in amongst the bombs and the gunfire, the ruins and the suffering, small shoots of hope begin to show. People who formerly could not support themselves or provide for their families are now learning crafts and trades, and through them gain an income. One such group of people is the carpet making co-operative run by World In Need in Kabul.

The co-operative began when a group of children came to our Day Care Centre, looking for an education. These children had all lost their fathers during the Taliban era, and their widowed mothers struggled to provide for them. Under the Taliban, this was next to impossible, since women were not permitted to earn a living.

However, with the Taliban ousted from power, things changed. Women were now able to work and World In Need wanted to help them to do so. We set up the carpet making co-operative, helping the widows to make the good quality carpets for which Afghanistan has long been famed.

World In Need takes orders for carpets from customers in the UK, then commissions them. The carpets are practical and durable, and come in a range of colours, patterns and sizes. As the orders came in, the ladies have been able to add to their range, and as well as the standard patterns they can now offer bespoke carpets.

In some cases, paintings done by children at the day care centre have been used as a template for decorative carpets.

The picture on the left shows one of these paintings.

As word spread and the carpets sold, we expanded the co-operative, bringing in new workers, including men. Whole families now weave the carpets to order for us, and the income this brings has improved their standard of living exponentially.

Examples of carpet designs can be seen on our website in the shop. You can also find examples of the childrens’ paintings there as well. The paintings are also for sale.


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