Today I saw jute rug making for my first time. I was in a factory in Panipat, India, and I couldn’t help but think about the jute rug that lies on the floor of my family room back at home in California. Was it made here in this very factory? Perhaps, since most of the Target jute rugs are made here.

Kashmiri Hands India Panipat

To see the process of rug making, with men working the loom and women crouched on the floor opening the yarn to make the cone for the weaving, was fascinating. So many steps and human hands needed to create this one rug.

Kashmiri Loom India Panipat

Among the row of women dressed in brightly colored saris was a young, slender girl with a smile that caught my eye. As I worked with a translator to introduce myself, I realized this was not a girl, but a 25 year-old mother of 4 who works here as a yarn opener alongside her husband who is a factory manager. I couldn’t help but think of the challenges she has faced in her life, having become a mother at the age of 16, caring for her family, living in a town of poor migrant workers, and working long hours at a factory.

Kashmiri Smile India Panipat

What different lives we live, yet we had an instant connection. We are both mothers. As we talked, her smile grew as she told me with pride that three of her children go to private school and her youngest goes to the free government school that the nonprofit GoodWeave helped establish.

It was then that I realized we share the same wish. We are connected in our dreams of offering a brighter future to our children.

In a few days when I make the long journey home, I will sit on my jute rug and hug my own children as I share these photos of Kashmiri Khatun.

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