25 years of CARE & FAIR
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, CARE & FAIR presents intertviews with important supporters and donors. These interviews were carried out by the Carpet! Magazine, Hamburg
This time we talk to Volker Heinrich.
Not only has he been an honorary member of the board since its foundation (first as treasurer and later as chairman), nobody else has transferred more money to CARE & FAIR in the last 25 years.
For 25 years now you have been committed to CARE & FAIR, both financially and on a honorary basis. And this to a very high degree. How did this close relationship come about?
I want to be completely honest. In the early 1990s, there was intense public discussion about illegal child labour … There were calls for boycotts against hand-knotted carpets. At that time, we carpet importers were under pressure to tackle this issue offensively and find practicable solutions as quickly as possible. At the beginning of CARE & FAIR it made sense for me, above all for rational reasons, to work together with many other importers and retailers against child labour and to initiate projects in the countries of origin.
My emotional ties to CARE & FAIR developed over the years. It was very important to me to always know personally what happened with CARE & FAIR‘s funds. Regular trips to the projects, visits to the school classes and medical facilities were indispensable; by the way, always on a voluntary basis, always at my own expense.
During these visits I was able to see so many happy children’s eyes, to directly experience how much can be done with relatively little money and how positively the projects have developed. Today I like to say that CARE & FAIR is like a child for me.
What happened in the first years of CARE & FAIR? What were the first steps?
Due to the high public pressure and the very good business in the carpet trade at that time, CARE & FAIR was in the fortunate position to soon have considerable amounts at its disposal. Relatively quickly it became clear to us that we did not want to donate this money to other charities, but wanted to invest it in our own projects. So we knew exactly how this money was going to be used. This transparency was and still is important to us.
CARE & FAIR has mainly supported and developed school projects in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Why?
On the one hand, education is very important and it is not self-evident in many countries of origin that children can attend school free of charge. It is very difficult to prevent child labour through controls, especially in rural knotting areas, where knotting is done almost exclusively by house labour, such as in the Indian carpet belt. If there is no opportunity for children in the region to attend school, they must instead support the family with their labour. We also attach great importance to the fact that the relationship between boys and girls in the classes is balanced so that girls also have access to education.
What are you particularly proud of when you think of yourself and the 25-year history of CARE & FAIR?
Above all, it is the independence of CARE & FAIR. From the first day until today. We have received our money exclusively through membership fees, the importer and manufacturer contributions as well as donations from the carpet industry or from private individuals through the association Friends of CARE & FAIR. Many projects, such as the Vern School in Pakistan, are now financially self-sustaining and require little or no funding from us.