Do we know where the carpet that decorates our living room comes from? In most cases we don't. Let alone that we know what price the carpet weavers are paid for it.

The textile sector is one of the most oppressive and polluting sectors in the world. The carpet trade, which is centuries old and, according to experts, will soon account for almost 40 billion dollars, is an underexposed part of this. Two reports from 2014 mention forced labour in India (45% of all carpet weavers according to Harvard University) and child labour in Nepal (10,000 children according to Goodweave).

Journalist Sarah Vandoorne and photographer Sarah Van Looy travelled to Morocco, center of the carpet weavers, and went to a weaving workshop at the foot of the Sahara. There they met the weavers of Carpet of Life, a social enterprise founded in the Netherlands and currently run by two sisters from Ghent. Their project is to recycle clothes in Europe and have them woven into carpets in the Sahara, at a fair price.

In the Sahara they researched the impact of the project within the local community. They put it in a broader context. They learn about rogue buyers who earn up to sixteen times more from carpets than the bottom prices they are willing to pay the weavers, about cooperatives that use their business model as a tourist trap and about carpet weavers who, step by step, learn to take matters into their own hands.

Sarah Vandoorne

Sarah Vandoorne is a Belgian editor and freelance journalist.

Sarah Van Looy

Sarah Van Looy is een Belgische fotografe en journaliste.
€ 1.130 allocated on 19/09/2017.
Fonds Pascal Decroos