Faces of Freedom
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In May this year, GoodWeave’s inspection team found 15-year-old Samrul in a dingy carpet loom in Uttar Pradesh, India. Greeted by confusion and hostility, GoodWeave staff immediately rehabilitated him back to Malda from the support of his family.  After discovering that Samrul’s parents did not send him to the loom, his indictment as a forced labour came into light. 
It was six years ago when Samrul dropped from school, and since then he has had little motivation to study further. During those days, Samrul’s father earned a livelihood by being a street peddler while his mother took care of the children and the household chores. Life took a drastic turn for young Samrul when the temporary dwelling in which he lived with his family got washed away in a storm. The family had no option but to move to their elder son’s house in Malda; this exceedingly small residence, with no toilet facility, now housed a total of 9 people. Frustrated by the constant state of domestic interference and limited access to any resources, Samrul ran away from this new abode. He found a group of weavers on Malda railway station who were on their way to the carpet district of Bhadohi, and henceforth took his first step towards his presumed freedom.
Very soon, he was absorbed as a labourer in a weaving centre. Emotionally and mentally oppressed by his newly acquainted ‘master’, Samrul now found himself in an altogether different environment. He had food but no wages, and long hours of work left him drained. This is a stark example of how a vague young worker policy in India provides ample scope for the loom owners to find and optimize cheap labour. Disdained, Samrul ran away from there as well, and soon began working in a different centre, now in company of his elder cousin. Here, he was paid a meagre wage but his 10-hour tryst with the weaving process continued for a while. It was during this time GoodWeave found and rehabilitated Samrul.  
A recent visit to Samrul’s home in Malda, West Bengal, demonstrated his gratefulness to be back but also his complete disinclination towards education. He feels the need to earn money and not make a naive attempt at starting from the scratch. GoodWeave team has been touch with him to offer any support that he might need, including an orientation on what options he now holds. GoodWeave is planning to offer vocational and skill-building courses for Samrul and other rescued (bonded) young-workers in Malda who have refused to study. This shall give them a chance to start afresh and always have some bargaining advantage in whatever they choose to do.  “I want to earn money, and become a rich man soon”, concludes Samrul, as GoodWeave team leaves him to ponder on his tomorrow.


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