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Filtering by Tag: child labour
Creative Matters has always been determined to instill socially conscious practices in regard to the creation of their rugs. The weavers who make the rugs, in the many countries where they are woven, are adult artisans. Along with Creative Matters’ insistence that all the rugs from Nepal be child labour free, we’re always looking for ways to expand our focus beyond the walls of the factories. On Thursday June 6th we took it one step further by hosting a coat drive in an effort to send warm clothing and outerwear to the street children in Kathmandu. Michael Pourvakil and his team at Weavers Art Contemporary, generously hosted the evening in their beautiful Designers Walk showroom.
As a regular visitor to the city, CMI co-founder, Carol Sebert gets to see the beautiful parts of this South Asian country but also some of the darker images Kathmandu holds. She says:
"While in Nepal last November, I saw a number of kids living on the streets. It gets cold in Kathmandu in the winter and kids are forced to sleep next to dogs to stay warm. I was struck by this tragic existence and wanted to make a difference.”
According to UNICEF, "Street living children are children who may have lost their families through war or illness, or have been abandoned because they had become too much of a burden, or else ran away from their abusive, dysfunctional, poverty-stricken families and now live alone on the streets. Many poor children are struggling for survival out in the streets, sleeping on makeshift cardboard mattresses in main cities like Kathmandu.”
Our event was a success, raising awareness and collecting over 100 coats to send to Kathmandu with the help of Child Welfare Scheme, U.K.- Nepal who will aid in the distribution of the coats and ensure that the outerwear gets to those in need. Our CWS representative, Jeremy Southon wrote to us this morning with his distribution game plan,
“ We will have them delivered to one of your suppliers so that they can clear it through customs as I will be managing distribution in Kathmandu…Once the clothes have arrived I should put together a clear distribution plan for your approval and then get the clothes distributed in early December when the cold season starts.”
We look forward to an update from Jeremy in the coming months. A special thanks for the huge efforts put forth by staff and students of Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, Toronto, for taking up our plight and gathering a great number of coats and outerwear. We also warmly thank friends and neighbors of Creative Matters for their donations as well.
Greetings from Creative Matters!
Carol and Ana returned this past weekend from their trip to Nepal. Carol managed to steal a few hours from her busy trip, to visit the Goodweave site where children are taken after being rescued from forced labour in carpet mills. While she was there, she taught an art class for the 33 students who are living there at the moment. After she left, Carol sent the most uplifting email from Nepal - very inspiring! I had to share:
I had such a fun day I felt I had to report right away.
I went to the home where the kids live at Rugmark/Goodweave today with paper, paints (house paint tinted yellow pink and blue) black ink and paintbrushes. The kids were really excited that we were going to have an afternoon of art. I began with them all up on the roof of their home, as it was a gloriously sunny day. We sat in a big circle and started with the ink and did life drawing, which of course, was absolutely hilarious.I got one of them to model and at first they were shy and their poses a bit dull, but one by one (I guess I had about 15 models by the end) the poses became more elaborate. There were lots of judo-like poses by the boys and tiger-like poses from the girls. They all just leapt into painting with marvelous abandon!
I then had them take the black and white paintings and add colour.By this time, the paint was starting to get all over the place, including in my hair as it was quite a flurry - paint pots were spilling, what with 33 kids exuberantly painting... but they were so into it, and so incredibly focused.I've done workshops like this before and there are generally a few goofballs that really can be disruptive, but not these kids - they worked really hard.
After about an hour I wanted to do one larger piece. I wanted them to try working larger so the full sheet that was 24”x36”.I instructed them to paint themselves in a setting that they liked and WOW, the results were amazing.Many of them did houses with the Himalayas in the background with clouds in the sky and big suns. One boy painted the RugMark house that they all currently live in with him on the roof flying a kite; another boy drew himself as almost a cartoon superman type figure in a charming landscape.Gorgeous work.And they were so proud of themselves - I couldn't take enough pictures of them holding their artworks, it was absolutely lovely.
A touching moment was when one girl, who had just arrived the day before, who was too shy to do anything but watch finally picked up a paintbrush (well I may have put it in her hand). She did a lovely figure painting all pinks and blues. You could just sense her feeling more settled and part of the group. The warden and I were both really pleased to see that.
What a flurry of activity November has afforded Creative Matters! More than a week after our 20th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser, I finally have a chance to sit down and write about our fantastic night.
First of all, we’re 20! Happy Birthday Creative Matters! Congratulations to Carol and Donna for such a great feat – and here’s to 20 more, right? So, the night went off without a hitch and we saw just over 500 people come through our event at Gallery 345 to help us celebrate. Our long and arduous hours of installing the show, that saw the whole staff (and some of their parents!?) hammering and hanging, sweeping and cleaning, paid off.
The gallery was transformed from a very promising canvas into a feast for the eyes (and hearts!) that displayed our new collection of hand-knotted carpets as well as a retrospective of 20 years worth of CMI designs and photographs.
One of the other big highlights of the evening was the unveiling of Hariti, the responsible, luxury rug that was created as a fund-raising piece that will be raffled to benefit RugMark. RugMark, as you know, works to end illegal child labor in the carpet industry in South Asia and offers educational opportunities to children who are rescued from carpet mills. The carpet is stunning and we sold a ton of raffle tickets. We’re nearing our goal but we’re still not there – so buy buy buy! You still have 13 days left! I can't even tell you what an opportunity this is - the chance to win a hand knotted, one-of-a-kind, wool and silk carpet - for $25!
In addition to all of this we finally had the opportunity to meet a RugMark representative, in the flesh! Heather Joseph, RugMark’s Development Officer (who is lovely) flew in from Washington, D.C. She came and spoke and worked the room to spread the word. And as a special treat, Heather was joined by Robin Romano, the talented photographer (and amazing speaker) who shot the Faces of Freedom show that hung at Gallery 345 in conjunction with Floored to be 20. The photos were breath taking and we were so happy that they could share in our celebration.
Great big thank-yous to everyone who helped to make our party perfect! Stay tuned for more party pics on our next post "The Guest List".
Stay warm (curled up on a wool carpet)!
Good morning everyone!
The countdown is on to win Hariti, Tibetan for “Protectress of Children”, an original and responsible, luxury rug designed by Creative Matters.
All proceeds from the raffle go directly to RugMark, a non-profit organization working to end child labour in South East Asia. The cost of only two tickets ($50.00) offers a child a full year of education.
If you have already purchased a ticket for Hariti, here is a great photo of the hand made wool and silk area rug, graced by furniture courtesy of Klaus by Nienkamper.
Visit the Creative Matters blog for the inspiration and progress of this journey. Send a child to school, give an opportunity for an educated future and hope to win Hariti.
Have a great weekend and keeping checking in for more updates!
I'm happy to announce that Carol and Donna arrived home unscathed, albeit a bit late from their cross continent journey to South Asia. A "Storm Signal 9" typhoon called Nuri decided that she was going to swing by the Hong Kong airport where the ladies had a stopover, and wreak a little havoc. During their extended stay they took the time to write some great emails while the images were still fresh in their heads. Over the next few days we'll be sharing some of these writings and beautiful photos in preparation for September 8th (this Monday!) when raffle tickets officially go on sale, for a chance to win Hariti. As I mentioned before, she's all finished and we have photos...but you can't see those yet - you'll have to wait until Monday! In the meantime, here's some food for thought:
Donna and I went to the RugMark facilities today to see with our own eyes where the children are living who have been rescued from the looms and factories in Kathmandu.
It's a four storey building with a large playground that was, unfortunately, not usable at the time. It's rainy season here in Nepal so full of puddles, but one can imagine great games of soccer taking place. Many of the residents are young boys, as they are the more valuable child workers because they are strong at a young age. However, there are a number of girls here.
We were introduced to one lovely young girl, probably around the age of 11, who had been rescued just the day before. She had already woven 2 rugs but now has a chance for an education and a better life. She was not yet dressed in the uniform that all the children wear, a maroon shirt with navy pants. Boys and girls alike wear the same.
We toured all the facilities, from the bedrooms, which look a little like what we have in summer camp. There are bunk-beds in each room with around 10 beds in per space. The rooms were very clean and very tidy, the blankets all rolled up at the head of each bed with the pillow, shoes carefully lined up at the door. There's a cupboard for additional clothing, but these children do not have any personal items.
School books for studying were on some of the beds, rest time for some includes math review. There is a library where the children all meditate for half an hour each day, then can read and enjoy quieter games. The kitchen, which had delicious smel
ls wafting through, was staffed by a number of women, and there was a room adjacent that was the dining hall. In total there are about 40 children at this facility.
In the kitchen however, there were 5 older boys who had gone through the program at RugMark, had completed their Grade 12 level and now have sponsors for university in Kathmandu. It looked like they'd returned for a homecooked meal!
The three classrooms are simple with schoolbooks, tables and benches and a blackboard. The children are fast tracked to grade three level and depending on their competency they either continue on for the potential of university education with help from sponsors or are trained for vocational work such as carpentry.
We discussed with the managers about the cost of each student's education, and for around $50.00/ year they recieve their uniforms, school books and education. That works out to two tickets for the raffle of Hariti. Imagine, 2 tickets sends a child to school for one year! It was a great tour and wonderful to see the facilities. We are delighted to see first hand the great work being done by RugMark and feel so good about contributing directly to helping the children.
Carol and Donna
The following is an email from Carol - straight from South Asia. We've all been sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting to see photos of Hariti on the loom. When Carol and Donna arrived in Nepal they had a huge surprise waiting. Read on:
Nepal never ceases to amaze.
Donna and I went to the carpet mills today. Theoretically rainy season but the rain seems to conveniently fall at night and the days are glorious with some sun and then huge clouds rolling over the Himalayas to blanket Kathmandu valley. Driving in Kathmandu is exciting. Quite frequently a cow will interrupt traffic and it is a terrible crime to hit a cow as they are holy. If they decide to stop and lie down in the middle of the highway, so be it. It's hard to describe the loose relaxed driving style in Kathmandu. There are traffic police at particularly busy intersections, which helps a lot, but otherwise one just moves through the traffic flow and magically it seems to work. Donna and I dart across the street, we clearly have not mastered the relaxed manner.
We saw Hariti today for the first time. It's fantastic - the colours in the silk and wool just dance off the floor. The weavers at the factory, who made the rug, were intrigued with the concept that a photo from here (Nepal) was turned into a design and then a 6' x 9' rug. The translation from photo to artwork and now to finished rug is really exciting. The gleam from the broach that the child was wearing in the photo really sparkles in the finished piece. It was expected that Hariti would be in mid-production, upon our arrival. We could have been dreaming it but, were the weavers were so intrigued about production of this exciting rug that they finished it in half the time?
That's all for now, gotta go and meet Dawa,
Stay tuned for more from Nepal. We're all so curious about Hariti...maybe they can squeeze her into their carry-on?
Until next time,
So I was terrified.
I drove downtown, arrived at 5:30 - there were no coffee shops open (not even Starbucks)!?, so there I sat, in the lobby of the CBC building fretting, until 5:50 when I was asked to show up. I was constantly reading my notes, getting the facts and figures memorized about child labour in carpet mills and the political upheavals in Nepal. I felt like I was in high school getting ready for a big exam and just like an exam, they reminded me that I couldn't read from my notes - sigh.
They kindly gave me my first question before I entered the recording studio. I go blank. I have to call my business partner Donna to get her input. Yup, 6:00 a.m., but she's a trooper and she's up ready to listen. I realize that I don't know what else Andy is going to ask and now the veil of fear starts to overcome me.
Anyway, I go into the studio, Andy and I have a little chat while the news is being reported (somewhere else in the huge CBC building), he's inquiring about websites and cruises our site while he asks me a few questions. Then the fellow tells me how close to be to the microphone (around 7") and I'm frozen in position ready to roll.
Cue the sound, Andy gives the intro, and we chat for a few minutes. Andy asks me about child labour in Asia, if I'd witnessed it, and I had to say no - but I'm not so naive to think that just because I'd been there it wasn't possibly happening. This is why we're so excited to be working with Rugmark. I explain how the mills put on the labels that are carefully monitored and each number can be traced to the loom and weavers who made it. How the inspectors go into the mills unannounced to ensure there is no child labour and our initiative of Hariti and the raffle are explained matter-of-factly.
Doing our part to end child labour, and ensuring that our rugs are made under sound working conditions has become really important to me. I'm thrilled to be able to tell our clients that the rugs they get are made by adult weavers. It feels so rewarding to be able to provide good employment not only in Canada with the great team that I work with, but as well, to the weavers in Nepal.
All in all it was an extremely exciting opportunity to be on the radio show I listen to every morning.
Afterwards - I had to go home for a nap.
Photographer: Romano / Stolen Childhoods (courtesy of RugMark)