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Capturing the World As It Is, and Changing It for the Better

Capturing the World As It Is, and Changing It for the Better

NOTE: This is a guest blog post from April Thompson, Director of Marketing and Communications of GoodWeave USA.

U. Roberto Romano has photographed thousands of children in his decades traveling the globe to document child slavery in its many forms— from the carpet looms of Asia, to the cocoa fields of Africa, to the fishing platforms off the coast of Indonesia. Yet for him, the faces of individual children he has photographed remain etched in his memory.

“Pictures show us the world as it really is, especially when what you are trying to show is unimaginable,” said Romano. “From the pleading eyes of the enslaved girl who sits at a loom in Bhaktapur, Nepal to the impossibly old, scarred hands of a former child weaver, Sanju, in Kathmandu who, for most of her young life, knew nothing but the burden of debt and work. Such images convey what words cannot: the crime of child labor committed against 215 million of the world’s kids.”

This May, the award-winning photographer and filmmaker returned to the carpet belts of Nepal and India to document the disturbing face of child labor today, as well as the hopeful faces of children rescued from servitude and educated by the international nonprofit GoodWeave.  The new collection is part of GoodWeave’s traveling photo exhibit “Faces of Freedom” and will be previewed this July to 35,000 young social justice activists attending the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans.

Romano knows that depicting a problem without a solution is a recipe for despair, but child labor has an answer in the work of organizations like GoodWeave.

“When Sanju Maya told me she had finally found the sister and best friend she had always wanted at [rehabilitation center] Hamro Ghar, I knew that she felt hope for the first time in her life and this is what I wanted to capture, that GoodWeave means hope for so many children,” said Romano. “For more than 15 years I have been documenting child labor and slavery in South Asia’s carpet industries, and in that time I have seen GoodWeave grow into one of the most effective organizations of its kind.”

Romano was also impressed by the self-confident stance of Saraswoti as she displayed her certificate. This young woman became Kathmandu’s first female motorcycle mechanic with GoodWeave’s support. Together, Sanju and Saraswoti symbolize the empowerment that is possible when adults earn a living wage and kids are sent to school instead of work.

Everyone can be a part of the picture of hope. Whether it’s organizing a fundraiser or sharing a post about child labor on Facebook, a thousand small acts can add up to a big change. Where do you fit into the picture?

Click here to preview Romano’s latest body of work on Facebook.


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Photo credit: Nepal GoodWeave Foundation

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2:57AM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

Kudos to Romano.

10:24AM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

cool. thanks for the link.

1:54AM PDT on Jun 20, 2012


9:26AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

It is truly wonderful to see the world changing for better!

10:01AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

Great work, I'm impressed

5:52AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012


5:33AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

Do your research and stop buying things made from those countries where most productivity is derived from child labour.

5:11AM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

This is the reason why I won't have rugs and carpets from these countries. I don't want a beautiful rug that was made by child slaves. There used to be a carpet shop run by a nice couple from Saudi Arabia that had a sign out the front declaring that the carpets they sold were not made by child labour. They explained that they got their rugs from the few places that did not use children. But the rugs got harder to obtain as the child labour rugs were cheaper and easier to obtain eventually they were forced to close down.
I just hope enough people refuse to buy these rugs to send a message that the rest of the world is against child slavery.

2:42PM PDT on Jun 17, 2012

This exhibition sounds awesome. Good weave has done so much good enabling children to have a education that is every childs right.

12:54PM PDT on Jun 17, 2012


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