Go ahead. Sink into the soft pile of a quality Bunyaad Oriental rug, handcrafted in Pakistan. Not only is it good for your tootsies, but when you buy a rug, you’re investing in people – at least a dozen of them – plus their families!
Dal, kids and a job too
In many rural areas of Pakistan, women have few opportunities to earn income for their families. But by working with Bunyaad and moving a loom right into their homes, skilled hand-knotters can create beautiful rugs – and still cook, and take care of their homes and children too. And because artisans are paid by the knot, it encourages them to create lush carpets, not hastily made ones. With reliable, consistent income comes stability and autonomy. No need to move to a city for work either.
Small fingers do not equal better rugs and carpets
Of course bonded child labour is a travesty that needs to be eliminated (and the good news is that the numbers have been shrinking since the mid-90s). But there’s another reason why fair trade Bunyaad rugs are better for using fairly paid, skilled adults: children simply don’t have the expertise nor the patience to create high-quality rugs. Myth busted! Bunyaad has taken this commitment to children even further by building schools to reach student-aged children, especially young girls.
Feeling good about their work
Speaking of quality, Bunyaad offers excellence as an integral aspect of doing business. Other producers have been known to stretch finished rugs to gain as much as four inches on all sides, while paying artisans for the original size! Or they use inferior, cheaper iron finishing nails that rust and discolour the rug, rather than Bunyaad’s more expensive stainless steel nails. This commitment to quality inspires many artists and artisans to feel pride in their work. Many opt to stay with the organization for decades.
Creating understanding and hope
There’s another reason why artisans remain, says Gwen Repeta, Canada Rug Program coordinator, back from a recent visit to the Bunyaad finishing centre in Lahore. Despite the widespread animosity between Christians and Muslims in that region, Bunyaad employs people of both faiths who then work and eat side by side.
“I heard it from the rug-makers over and over. They say, ‘At Bunyaad, not only do we get good wages, food, tea and respect, but there is no Muslim or Christian. There is brotherhood.’”