Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Fair Wage for a Fair Day's Work

It is sometimes astonishing what a difference a couple of days can make.  

Just yesterday it struck me that perhaps it was time to re-launch a series of exquisitely embroidered cushion covers from the villages of Vayots Dzor.  We worked intensively last year on the development of these items after being told a story that borders on modern day slavery.  The women in these villages are known for the high quality of their embroidery, their accuracy.  And, the women have only a garden and perhaps a beehive from which to create income.  That is why Turks in the business of high priced cushion covers and wall hangings regularly send their Armenian representatives to these particular villages and ask the women to fully embroider large pieces of cloth- because the quality is good, and the women have no other choice.  For a piece of cloth the size of a table runner taking two months to embroider, they receive about USD 50, much less than minimum wage in Armenia.  The finished pieces are shipped to Turkey and sold at exorbitant prices.

This is not about the Armenian-Turkish relationship.  This is about paying a woman a fair wage for a fair day's work.

So we set about asking the women to embroider a much smaller swatch of cloth, and framing it in a nice piece of fabric to match a rich looking cushion cover.  They made a few of them, but the market didn't want them for some reason.  Expectations were not fulfilled, so we put these products to the side for a year.

Then yesterday I brought them out again.  And tonight I have orders for nine cushions from warm-hearted people who know a quality product when they see one.

So tomorrow morning I start breathing new life into those products-because these women deserve it.

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