Greetings from reWoven! In this newsletter we will explore events and news from the last six months, a deeply challenging time for everyone. We hope all our subscribers are safe and well, and will be encouraged by the stories and developments from this amazing project. We are very thankful that thus far all of our weavers both in Kosalar and in Karachopt have remained healthy.
Weaving Our Way through Crisis
With the global pandemic, war in the neighbouring countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and a major economic decline in Georgia, the last six months of 2020 have been difficult all round. Nevertheless, reWoven has managed to stay on track, and is well on the way to becoming a sustainable social enterprise that will preserve the ancient art of Bordjalu-Kazak carpet weaving and benefit the community for many years to come. We have successfully established ourselves as an NGO, our weavers have maintained a steady income and we have seen healthy rug sales—many made through word of mouth by our previous customers and newsletter subscribers! Since May 2020 we were able to host a small tour to the weavers of Kosalar and a small, but incredibly successful exhibition at the British Embassy in Tbilisi.
It has not been easy running reWoven in light of the border issues brought on by both the pandemic and the Karabakh War. For this reason, yarn has been very slowly trickling in from Azerbaijan, stifling our ability to keep the weavers at the loom. We are working on locally sourcing our yarn which would eliminate the need to wait for the border to reopen. This includes our long-term vision of seeing all of reWoven’s operations, from beginning to end carried out right here in Georgia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities hard across the globe, and nowhere more so than the Azerbaijani villages of south-eastern Georgia where re-Woven operates—a region that was at the centre of Georgia’s fist COVID outbreak, and one that then endured an especially severe lockdown. Given the economic vulnerability of the region, reWoven was concerned not only about the livelihood of its weavers, but also of their wider communities. The reWoven board decided to try to bring some kind of relief to the most vulnerable in Kosalar and Karachopt. After much deliberation we decided to organize food distribution to our weavers as well as all of the widows in Kosalar. It was wonderful to see how eager the weavers were to take time out of their day to deliver care packages of imported food goods to their neighbors, friends and community members.
Over 80 care packages were assembled and distributed!
The weavers pose for a picture before the distribution.
A widow and her grandchildren receive their care packages
Weavers deliver the care packages to their neighbors
Commission a reWoven Rug!
Here are some rugs currently available for purchase. To view our full gallery please visit reWoven.net
The very best way to support reWoven and help drive our vision forward is by purchasing your own rug. All of the proceeds generated go into strengthening our weaving community. If you already own a reWoven rug, please remember that these rugs make fantastic gifts for friends and family! Also, if you would like your rug featured on the reWoven Instagram and Facebook page, please send us a direct message @rewovenrugs. We are able to ship rugs to almost anywhere in the world for an affordable rate! Buy a rug right now visiting our gallery and contacting Mike Chapman.
We are proud to introduce our newest team member: Zaur Khalilov. Zaur, who joined reWoven in June as assistant to the director, is a 22 year old ethnic Azeri who was born and raised in Georgia. Growing up in a multi-ethnic culture, Zaur has a firm grasp of languages including Georgian, Azeri, Russian and English and has brought a depth of cultural understanding that has been a constant resource in our endeavours. Zaur is a hugely positive and energetic young man with endless enthusiasm for the project, and we at reWoven are delighted to be working with him. We hope that you will get the chance to meet Zaur as soon as the situation allows us to host tours again.
The economic crisis left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit rural areas of Georgia especially hard, and reWoven is proud to be able to bring on new talent to the team in such difficult circumstances: this is only possible by the incredible support that we have received from YOU!
Fatima (left) sitting with her sister Tukazban (right)
While Fatma is not the longest tenured weaver with reWoven, she has spent many decades at the loom—most women in the village of Kosalar have. However, like most other women in the village, Fatma more of less stopped weaving in the early to mid-nineties. When Fatma connected with reWoven, it had been sixteen years since she last made a carpet. She and her sister, Tukazvan, returned to the craft at the same time. Both of them had been school teachers, so they never had to rely on rug weaving to contribute to their families. Fatma was a Russian language teacher, while her sister taught mathematics. But they both returned to the loom in their respective homes with such excellence that it was as if they had never left it.
reWoven is as dedicated now as ever to carrying out our vision. We aim to provid economic options for low-income Azeri communities in Georgia, to preserving the ancient cultural tradition of hand woven rugs and to enrich the lives of our amazing weavers. We are still depending on you to get the word out about our growing project! There are three main ways you can continue supporting reWoven.
1. Sign up for our newsletter! Please help expand our reach by forwarding this newsletter to friends and family. For those of you who are not already signed up and you would like to periodically receive reWoven updates please sign up here!
2. Follow us on facebook and instagram! If you would like up to date stories from our weavers and see their beautiful creations follow us on facebook and Instagram. Like and share our stories with your friends and family.
3. Donate to our organization! reWoven sets aside a portion of its income to fund special projects aimed at helping its weavers and the communities in which they live. We collaborate with our weavers and local leadership to come up with meaningful and impactful projects. Some of our past endeavors have included purchasing school supplies for local students, providing funds for medical assistance and purchasing a large dish/silverware set for the local community center. If you would like to make a donation to help fund similar projects please contact Michael Chapman.
Hi everyone, my name is Mike Chapman and as the director of reWoven please allow me a moment to share my thoughts about our project and where we are headed. It has been two and half years since taking over this business from the late Ryan Smith. I never would have imagined that after so much time I would still feel like I’m learning something new everyday about this business. I’ve really come to admire Ryan in a much more profound way for all that he was able to accomplish and the depth of his knowledge of Kazak rugs. In spite of my lack of experience I am very pleased with where the project is at today. To be honest, I can take little credit for the amount of rugs we have been able to sell during this transition period. The expat community in Tbilisi and our friends across the world have gone out of their way to support reWoven by commissioning rugs. Some families have purchased up to four rugs at a time! I am excited about Zaur, our recent hire as his assistance will allow me to devote more time and energy to marketing and realizing our long term goals. It is the vision that excites and energizes me the most. This includes moving the rug finishing process from Azerbaijan to Georgia, locally sourcing all of our yarn and eventually setting up our own yarn dying station. I feel reWoven is set up to have a very successful 2021. I want to personally thank the board for their help and most of all you for your support. I know that you will continue to advocate for our weavers and this projects worthy cause in the year ahead!
https://www.rewoven.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/reWoven-logo.png00mikehttps://www.rewoven.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/reWoven-logo.pngmike2021-01-20 10:24:582021-01-20 10:25:00Update December 2020