With great pleasure we announce that the Bunyaad Jared Rug Training Centre officially opened its doors on July 3, 2015, and started training new artisans.
This marks Bunyaad’s newest venture to start looms with artisans who are not previously skilled in rug making, a task Bunyaad hasn’t tackled since 1978. (Over 99% of the artisans Bunyaad begins with have a rug making history.)
So, why did Bunyaad start this project?
Quite simply because we saw people in need of jobs in a remote area where only limited and seasonal opportunities exist. We initially got involved with Jared community after 2006 earthquake as we had known few families in this region. So with the help of Mennonite Central Committee and Ten Thousand Villages US and individual stores, we built 16 homes for families in need. This initiative led many other organizations like the Swiss Red Cross to start their rebuilding projects that were struggling on the sidelines, haulted by local property conflicts among family members and neighbors as property boundaries and ownership documentation in many cases had never been detailed as families had lived on the same land for centuries. We were delightfully surprised to see in two years the whole region had changed tremendously, a testimony to the ripple effects that can be generated from small initiatives like ours. We are hoping that starting the Bunyaad Jared Rug Training Center will produce the same ripple effect and create many jobs for the people in this region.
A testimony to the ripple effects
that can be generated
from small initiatives like ours
During the rebuilding project in 2006 and 2007, every time we sat with Jared locals they continually asked us for job opportunities as they were in an area that little industry reached. Since then, we have been working on developing different job creation projects in this area, like stone jewelry, but none seemed as solid as rug making. So last year we sat with community leaders and talked about the idea of of opening Jared Rug Training Center; there was much excitement for this idea. In the past, many women in this region have worked with a World Fair Trade Organization member doing mostly embroidery for the tourist market. The Jared region is well known for its tourism due to its natural beauty with the Himalaya and Karakorum Mountains. But after the earthquake, this fair trade company did not return to Jared, leaving roughly 38 women without work. Rug making would be a new skill for these women, but with some similarities to their needlework.
So what does it take to start such a project?
- Several years of planning and training, including bringing local young individuals from Jared to get trained in Lahore office and warehouse on various things regarding rug production and management as well as overall purpose of the program.
- Two families willing to move from existing rug regions to the Jared area to act as the main trainers at the Center. This was a daunting task as moving from existing rug regions to Jared is quite a far move in quite different terrain.
- Suitable land to build the Centre, where transportation is both possible for people and materials.
- Constructing a new building with an earthquake-proof structure to house two families, materials, additional tools and supplies, a 10-loom training center, office and a guest room for people visiting from the Lahore office.
In June, two families from the Narrowal region were selected to move to Jared to teach 16/16 Persian carpet making techniques. Many Bunyaad artisan families volunteered to go, knowing the opportunity it would bring to this region; these two families were chosen for both their skills in rug making and their leadership abilities. Starting instruction in 16/16 Persian is a perfect form to start with as it will lay the groundwork for artisans at this Center to branch out to 20/20 Persians and beyond and even move over to different types of Tribal and Bokhara rugs that use similar techniques and that are produced by other Bunyaad artisans in a nearby region. The most surprising and humbling part of this project was when one local Jared family donated their land for 15 years so that the Center could be built, all by local labor and with local expertise for earthquake-proofing the building.
On July 3, 2015, the doors to the Centre officially opened and since then the response has been overwhelming as the project was designed for training both men and women. One gentleman came into the Centre asking “Is there still room for my two daughters to be recruited? They have just finished their high school and now have no job opportunities in this area.” He is is a local night watchman for many nearby shops at night. He told the Center’s supervisor that he wants his daughters to be able to work and to have a source of income for life. His daughters are now enrolled in training at the Center. Once they are trained, a loom will be installed in their home, easily multiplying their income potential and empowerment and increasing the financial stability of their family.
“Is there still room for my two daughters to be recruited?
They have just finished their high school
and now have no job opportunities in this area.”
Generally, it is common that men leave these regions for cities across Pakistan in order to find work; many men even end up abroad, especially in the Middle East, for better income. This migration for work either uproots a family from their home region or leaves many children without two parents guiding them in life. So the way we see it if everything goes as planned, this will be the first year-round job opportunity for people in Jared region. As the winter months are long, a loom at home will be a perfect source of income for both men and women. At this point, we are giving priority to training women so they can both work and train men at home. We are confident that this model will have the most positive impact for change on so many levels.
This project would not have been launched without the hard work of Ehsan Chaman, Afaq Mobin and many others in the Bunyaad family. Their commitment to the cause kept everyone motivated. We are thankful to their families who saw the greater purpose of this program and hence understood the countless work trips to the region and the hours to plan and set this program. At many times over the past years, this project looked impossible. Then the words of Nelson Mandela would come to mind “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
We hope this project brings the needed opportunities and change for many families in the Jared region. So off we go to sell more rugs so we can continue to support these artisans and create the needed change in this world!