Training opens ‘a window of hope’ for Albanian rug-weavers

KUKES, Albania (AP) — Albania once had 13 former state-run factories that produced carpets, rugs, fez hats, folk costumes and other hand-made clothing and artifacts. Kukes, a town northeast of the capital, Tirana, alone employed more than 1,200 women as weavers. When the country’s communist era ended in 1990, the local factory closed. Today, the town is one of the poorest in Albania, which itself is one of the poorest countries in Europe. A non-governmental organization has received money from German and Swiss development agencies to train 125 women in wool production and weaving. The founder said the purpose is to “open a window of hope for unemployed people” and to keep the tradition of handmade carpet-making alive.