Sunday, January 09, 2011

Jagriti Yatra Diary - Goonj, Clothing as a tool for Social Change

Jan 7 - We woke up after Sub 5 degree night, it was time for my alternate day bath, I braved my way to the train's bathing coach to find none of the hot water we were promised :( I filled up buckets of water and had a steam bath (steam coming off my body every time water touched the skin) :P In the process I also got some perspective of bathing habits of people, every south Indian who complains about 'north Indians' who don't bathe, should be made to bathe like this :P

We arrived at New Delhi 9 hours late and reached Goonj quite later in the evening, Mr.Anshu Gupta was waiting for us as promised. He made a passionate plea for clothing and dignity for the poor. The statistics he belted out left no one without guilt. Giving away old clothes is the most frequent form of charity he said, followed by a stinging query if giving away something you don't need/can't use is charity. By the end of his presentation he had 400 more fans!

We visited one of their sorting centres where clothes are received, sorted, repair and salvage is done before being channelised to the people who need it.

The 'Cloth for work' programme of Goonj motivates villagers to collectively work for community infrastructure projects like building bridges, digging wells, repairing roads, building schools etc in exchange for clothes. The 'School to School' programme collects discards from urban schools like School bags, pencil boxes, books etc and channelises them to rural schools. Annual events brings together both groups and sensitises the urban parents and their children

Not a piece of cloth is wasted, one of their major programmes is to provide sanitary napkins to rural women. They also provide clothing during disasters and they work almost across the country through their branches or partners. They now channelise over 50 tonnes of materials every month not just limited to clothes to various parts of India!! Check www.goonj.org

PS: I'll update the blog with some pictures later
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