Monday: I arrived in New Delhi, India, late last night and only got to bed at 2am, but I am up first thing and head straight to the offices of children's charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan to meet one of the Indian RugMark board members.
The day is spent hatching plans and interviewing a great candidate for the new RugMark executive director position in India. I hope she takes the job. She's outspoken and knows supply-chain management inside out. The rest of the BBA staff members are out of the office all day. I find out later that they have been on a factory raid in Old Delhi and have rescued 82 children from forced labour.
Tuesday: I'm off to Nepal today and have a busy few days ahead of me. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and the rug industry is vital to the economy, but recent political troubles and Maoist interference and extortion are now seriously affecting the industry. They stir up the largely illiterate workforce into demanding benefits and pay rates that rug factory owners simply cannot afford.
Wednesday: I meet the Nepali consultant who will be working with RugMark International on a new pilot programme to broaden our standards to encompass environmental issues.
All of Nepal is talking about the political situation here, and there is widespread feeling that the elections planned for April won't happen. It's also very difficult doing business here at present, with power cuts happening twice a day for up to four hours.
Thursday: Today is an important one for RugMark: a carpet buyer from one of the UK's largest department stores is visiting our rehabilitation centre and pre-school day care facilities. It seems to go well, and we cross our fingers that she is sufficiently impressed to recommend that her company supports us and labels its rugs with our name.
Friday: I'm awake all night suffering from traveller's tummy. I feel wretched and want to go home. It's no fun being ill in a budget hotel room. All meetings are cancelled.
Saturday: I have dysentery, so I'm set for a weekend in bed taking antibiotics. My mood worsens when I check my emails to see yet another rejection from a potential funder. Funding is a real worry for RugMark UK and I don't know how we will cover our core costs for the next two years. This will be my priority when I return.
- RugMark provides ethical accreditation for rugs and runs welfare programmes for children in India, Nepal and Pakistan.