Nothing tops sitting face to face with someone and getting to know them over a cup of tea. Three of our staffers (Jenni, Heike and Yousaf) along with Ten Thousand Villages Canada Rug Program Manager and Winnipeg store manager Gwen Repeta are currently traveling throughout Pakistan, meeting with rug artisans and seeing the fair trade difference in action.
As Yousaf is busy translating and Heike and Gwen are experiencing Pakistan for the first and second time respectively, I’ve been elected to write our first travel blog entry. Over the next two weeks, we will be traveling around to different villages and spending time at the main finishing center and warehouse in Lahore. With the help of this blog, we want to take you along on our journey and will try our best to transport you to Pakistan so you feel the warmth of the people and the depth that fair trade reaches into all of their lives.
As we shoot photos, have chai with rug designers, take photos at the washing center while the smell of bleach tickles our nose, we hear the stories of lives transformed by fair trade and the quality that can be produced when people are fairly paid.
Where do we start first?
Do you want to hear about how incredible homemade parathas, a buttery Pakistani flat bread this morning filled with vegetables, tasted along with our piping hot chai and homemade yogurt? Do you want to better get to know Wajid, a washer who works with Bunyaad who was just recently offered another job because someone saw his finishing work from visiting the Bunyaad Rug Room at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata and wanted to hire him for his own work—but Wajid declined even though it meant more money because of the respect he had with his Bunyaad coworkers, and the feeling of family that like he said just can’t be replaced anywhere else? Do you want a clearer understanding of why rug production slows down during the winter months as fog lays heavy throughout Punjab for days on end, letting little sun through, when the air from the Himalaya foothills descend upon Punjab and chill down the city, slowing down gas supply to many homes, cutting off heat and making finishing rugs quite difficult? Or do you want to hear about artisan after artisan that we are meeting that tells us receiving a fair wage for their work is important—but the overall caring of this organization that looks at the whole well-being of the person as a vital part of their business model is what is paramount?
Well, stay tuned because we have lots to share! And spread the word! Not many rug programs in North America can share these direct experiences with their customers so if you like what you are reading, sign up to receive future blog posts and share it onwards.