It was about 12.00 in the night, a very cold winter night in Delhi; we found this young man without legs, on crutches sitting around a makeshift fire-made of old polythene, paper etc. collected from the road..
Although GOONJ provides clothes largely under ‘Cloth for work initiative’, but on chilly winters night we also do anonymous distribution on Delhi roads. We gave him a warm overcoat and started moving ahead..
And suddenly I saw from my back view mirror that this guy is trying to run…. on his crutches….. behind the car.. suddenly, he stops, rests on the crutches, lifts both his hands and yells, “Ab hui hai meri Eid …. “ (now its Eid for me).
Eid, Diwali; since our childhood, we have been reading stories, including one by famous Indian writer Premchand; is a synonym of good clothes.. and imagine here is a person on the footpath who knew about EID but had no sign of that festival in his life and then suddenly an old cloth, to be honest a discard of someone, added so much life…gave a meaning to someone’s EID… This is the Joy of Giving.. when it makes an absolute stranger happy, it makes YOU happy.. For us Clothing has always been a core issue, for more than a decade now we are struggling to dignify the act of giving, trying to add value to cloth contribution, trying to tell people that when you talk about 3 basic needs, you say food, cloth and shelter; then why has cloth become a disaster relief material only? Why do we think that people in remote villages need clothes only when we find out about a flood or an earthquake there? Do you really think that half the world needs a disaster to be helped? Is poverty itself not a big disaster? It’s not hard to believe that many more people die in winters due to lack of clothes than earthquake or floods? Winters are a much bigger and regular disaster.. For that matter even menses are a monthly disaster for every single woman who is forced to use ash, sand, jute gunny bags, or grass as sanitary pad due to lack of a small piece of cloth.
Our role is to tell you the importance of the subject and provide you a channel.. how much you do is in your hands..
To open up the subject for a nationwide participation, GOONJ has initiated its VASTRA-SAMMAN campaign during the ‘Joy of Giving Week’ (27th Sept. till 3rd Oct.) We are reaching many cities and people from many other cities are doing it on their own.. It’s a massive campaign, many times bigger than our size.
We want people to join us in large numbers; individuals, schools, colleges, corporates – anybody and everybody.
Before asking an obvious question, “whether it will reach the right people or not OR how can we trust you? Please spend 15 minutes on www.goonj.info, that’s the first thing we will also tell you to do..Please remember I said ‘many times bigger than our size’ so arranging for transport etc. is really tough for us. We have arranged for space in many cities to store, have devised a communication kit, with an authorization letter for anyone wanting to organize a camp and also a few e-posters, (if needed we can also send you printed ones).
AFL has come up as a big support for courier services & transportation of the sorted material to the Indian villages. CNN IBN & IBN Lokmat have promised to spread the word, Integrator & Eulogik are working on the website & replication kit, Bedi Films has made a short video capsule and SAP is making an MIS programme, while hundreds of volunteers are joining us to take care of the logistics.
Our active collection will take place from October 1st to 3rd but you are free to organize camps in your area/school/college/corporate/institution anytime before or after. Just make sure to reach the material to our central hubs in the short listed cities by 15th October (a detailed list will be up on www.goonj.info by 25th September)
NOW its your turn to join the movement, get motivated, get involved; motivate others and bring a change.. with this collected material as a massive resource under Cloth for Work for development activities in the villages, school material and toys to support rural/slum schools and aanganwaris. Useless cloth to make mats, school bags and the entire cotton waste material to be converted into sanitary napkin.
- Large-scale participation of masses, corporates, schools and other institutions.
- Logistics and transport support, as we don’t want to burden AFL alone.
- Spread the word about the campaign through mass media, so that more people know how they can become a part of the change simply with their unutilized material..
We have miserably failed in getting:
- about 200 free mobile connections for 2 to 3 months, even when Nokia has sent us 200 handsets free..
- 25 data cards
- old/new but working 25 laptops
- Storage space in a few cities
- Someone to take care of the printing
- And in raising the bare minimum sum of Rs. 73.00 lakh for the entire campaign, since we are known for raising material and are not experts in raising money. Looks like a big sum but if all of us do our own bit, highly achievable..
Anshu Gupta ( Ashoka Fellow)