This month we celebrate Human Rights Day. Human Rights Day was created to bring attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It celebrates the fundamental proposition that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values.
It is especially important to keep in mind the importance of humane working conditions, long-term artisan relationships, and community empowerment, which are all the very important aspects of compassionate trade. One World Projects strives to protect these universal values and fair working practices, because ethical businesses build a prosperous and happy world.
One of our artisan partners is an organization called the Turkmen Women’s Active Rights Association (TWARA), located in Kabul, Afghanistan. Their mission is to empower women in order to create opportunity where it is needed. TWARA started work with the backward and marginalized Turkmen tribes of northern Afghanistan. TWARA works towards providing these communities with a strong economic and social structure. The organization has helped in establishing schools and health centers in the region. The members of TWARA also provide women with information about women rights and legal awareness.
The region is known to be rich in traditional handcraft practices, from fine embroidery to felt carpet weaving; TWARA has been able to help the women artisans in the communities to create marketable handmade products. The organization provides the artisans with regular trainings and skill development programs to enhance their skill and market understanding. TWARA promotes these products made by the Turkmen artisans through various international fairs and trade shows, which have helped the artisans, gain visibility in the international markets.
One of the many beautiful items produced by TWARA is this Cristina White Felt Rug with Flowers. Handmade with 100% felt, its bright colors and al-natural materials are sure to bring the unique exotic atmosphere of Afghan decor. Oriental rugs, world renowned for their high-quality weave and intricate detail, evoke a powerful image of Afghanistan’s rich history. A tradition dating back thousands of years, the complicated and time consuming process of rug making requires 100% silk and many artisans to complete.
Like all the rugs from TWARA, this Felt Rug with Flower Design is made with sheep’s wool purchased at the local market in Kabul. These rugs are animal friendly and are created by entire families. Typically, men complete the more labor intensive part of the process, rolling and pressing the rugs in reed mats to ensure their tight weave while women wash, sort and tint the wool, and then sew the edges around the final piece. TWARA employs ten families that work together to weave contemporary decor inspired by ancient history.
The roll is rolled back and forth between two people for several hours, causing it to tighten even further. Finally, when the rug has been rolled as tightly as possible, its unrolled and laid out in the sun to dry. After the rug has dried, the women trim and stitch and sew the edges of the final piece. TWARA employs ten families that work together to weave contemporary decor inspired by ancient history.
This Embroidered Felt Doormat with Clovers will be a fun welcome touch to your home décor. The wool it is made out of is stain-resistant and non-absorbent by nature, which makes cleaning easy. Just shake, sweep or vacuum your rug free of dirt. If your rug requires a deeper cleaning, dampen the affected area with water and then spot clean using mild non-bleach soap. Rinse the area thoroughly and remove excess water, and then lay the rug flat to dry.
Rug-weaving is a complicated and time-consuming process that often takes many artisans to complete. Typically, men do the most labor intensive part of the rolling the rugs, while women wash, sort, tint and begin to design a wool outline on a reed mat. Once the outline is completely laid out, the outline is filled in with wool, sprayed with hot water and rolled up inside the natural mat as tightly as possible and tied with a rope.
This labor-intensive process is the result of the hard work of the Afghan women from TWARA, which could not have been possible without the help from the organization. This just shows how vocational training, education, and humane working conditions empower the underprovided communities all over the world. So, commemorate Human Rights Day today by supporting fair trade and support a cause that gives an opportunity for a better life!