Jhabru started walking at seven to reach on time, Munni decided not to go for her daily wages work. They both joined a huge crowd- not to protest, not to agitate, but to pay back.. to acknowledge an idea that values a rare asset of village India, called self-respect..
At Alamnagar, Bihar, it was an emotional moment for our Cloth for Work initiative. No effort to collect the crowd and no motivation for people to get some free material. A local volunteer told them “There is nothing free. Why donation, why not ‘Shramdaan’ to pay back fo all the support we have got in the last few months..”
And here they were.. a strong crowd joining from all over, in an area which was totally devastated by floods last year. Huts and fields submerged in water for many months; where every single family suffered. It came from their heart, it was their pride in not being treated as so called beneficiaries or victims; it was their pride in doing something for their community, their village. Thousands came from a number of villages, walking miles, leaving their children behind, leaving behind precious wages. In a few minutes, all of them were working on a two kilometer stretch of road, leveling it, filling up the ditches, making it smooth and presenting an example for millions to follow…
GOONJ’s initiative Cloth for Work also won an international recognition recently when it received the prestigious Lien i3 Challenge Award in Singapore. We also won the People’s Choice Award at the award ceremony. Do refer – http://www.goonj.org/images/award.jpg
If Alamnagar became a symbol of growing rural volunteerism for GOONJ, the VASTRASAMMAN campaign during the Joy of Giving week came up as the largest pan-India voluntary act in the cities. In over 30 cities, hundreds of volunteers managed the campaign, went door to door to create awareness, collect material, spread the message of the most ignored issue of clothing, reaching out to millions of people and managing to collect a huge amount of material. We found people taking leave from their offices, youngsters bunking college to join the campaign, schools opening up their gates for public collection centers for the masses while corporates and residential associations motivated every single person in their group..
Over the years, we have been highlighting the fact that more people suffer in winters every year due to lack of clothing, making winters a much bigger disaster than an earthquake or floods. RAHAT Winters, our annual campaign, is on right now. Its good to see the impact as many organizations have started organizing similar campaigns in the last few years. Do join us in this campaign; spread awareness and organize camps. For more details visit http://www.goonj.org/rahat_winters.htm or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
You may be aware that GOONJ observes January 1st as Cloth Day every year. No celebration, no lectures, no event, no ribbon cutting… just a simple way of starting the new year in a more humane way. This new year do motivate friends, colleagues and relatives to start 2010 by contributing at least a cloth.. You can use Cloth Day poster to spread the word..
Wish you a busy and meaningful year ahead..
More in the newsletter.
Anshu Gupta (Ashoka Fellow)
VASTRASAMMAN- a wide level participation- GOONJ’s biggest and multi-city campaign during Joy of Giving week became a huge success not only in terms of collection of material but more so in wider participation of people and organizations.
On one hand we had Aditya Birla Group (financial support), AFL (nationwide logistics support), Reliance Communications (SMS support), Philips (local pick ups in a few cities) and a number of organizations who organized Pan India campaign; On the other hand we had a series of enthusiastic volunteers who gave this campaign a new intensity. Whether it was Shobhit Bhargava, who designed the entire publicity material or Ankit, Varun, Rakesh, Gauri, Usha Kala, Narayan, Smitha who took charge of organising the campaign in absolutely new cities (where we had never been before). If XLRI initiated it in Jamshedpur, La Martiniere Girls’ College took charge in Lucknow and Riverside School in Ahmedabad, while many small and big institutions, schools, RWA’s participated enthusiastically. There were a number of activists and social organizations like Adhikar, Spandan, Shuddham, Aham Bhoomika, Prayas who joined hands with GOONJ and took the VASTRASAMMAN campaign to their own cities. Over 100 trucks of material, widespread awareness, hundreds of motivated individuals and organizations keen to replicate the concept and a deeper understanding of the gravity of clothing subject among the masses- these are some of the outcomes of the campaign..
Year 2008 and 09 turned out to be the year of natural disasters for India. While we were still working in flood affected regions of Bihar the devastating cyclone Aila shattered a large part of Sunderbans in West Bengal. All this while a large part of the country experienced the worst ever drought followed by floods in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which left behind a trail of devastation. Our sincere thanks to all the organizations and people who trust our work and supported our initiatives during these disasters.
Andhra & Karnataka floods- At the fag end of the Vastra Samman campaign GOONJ got into relief work for the flood-hit people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Working extensively in the worst affected districts of Mehboobnagar, Kurnool and Raichur GOONJ is partnering with 4 grassroots organizations, having channelised over 15 trucks of essential relief material. As is common in most disasters, initially the area became a symbol of undignified, unplanned distribution of material, depicting the ugliest pictures of tonnes of old cloth lying on the roadsides. It was so bad that the Chief Secretary and the Collector even made an appeal to the people to stop giving cloth. GOONJ got into a large-scale work on properly channelising these clothes to the needy area. A team of 20 people is stationed in Hyderabad taking care of over 40 trucks of such clothes. Every single cloth is going through a rigorous need based sorting process as per GOONJ guidelines and is very well accepted in the villages now.
Ongoing work in Cyclone Aila hit areas in West Bengal: Cyclone Aila hit West Bengal and Bangladesh in May 2009, devastating lives and livelihoods of scores of people in both North and South 24 Paragana. Goonj was one of the first agencies to respond to the calamity and is still working there. In a few months’ time, substantial relief material like eatables, lanterns, medicines, clothes tents, blankets, utensils etc. was provided to about 14,000 families in the most difficult inland villages with the help of boats. GOONJ also came up as the largest group, which channelised tonnes of clothes including blankets in the devastated areas.
Grain banks in 50 drought affected villages (Gaya, Bihar) – In a successful experiment, instead of distributing dry ration among a few families, GOONJ has recently initiated grain bank in the worst drought affected 50 villages of district Gaya. The bank was started with an initial support of 4 quintal rice in each village, to be managed by the local communities under the supervision of Ekta Parishad, a leading grassroots organization. About 3 trucks of general and woolen clothing have also been channelised for thousands of people. In all these villages ‘Cloth for work’ is also being implemented on a wide scale.
Bihar floods- a large scale work on self sustenance- Over 1500 tonnes of material, running 10 schools with over 2000 kids, making of 3 big bamboo bridges and repair of number of road patches, cleaning of villages under Cloth for work initiative, Production of over 20,000 sujnis by converting old torn cloth in quilt by providing employment to 200 families in the process, self employment under our initiative VAAPSI to over 5500 people including shops, sewing machine, labour kits etc. sitting mats in 85 government schools, over 2 lakh blankets and mats, 3 lakhs woolens apart from winter kits to 6000 families, work in over 200 effected villages, support to over 20 grassroot/big organizations, initiating 3 haat (markets), supporting many medical camps, wide spread sanitary napkin programme, are just some of the highlights of our one of the biggest ever campaign. The work is on….. and we’ll be doing it in the same manner for the next few months by adding certain new activities as per village needs and by involving communities..
GOONJ’s new set up in Kolkata; A new formal chapter is added in the last few months. Do coordinate with Iftikar at email@example.com in Kolkata.
Dariya Dilli by BIG FM: In Delhi, to motivate people to contribute woolens and to make people aware of the cause, BIG FM initiated a citywide campaign with GOONJ as partner and has collected a good amount of the material for GOONJ’s RAHAT Winters campaign.
Annang Desai, a senior corporate professional started a unique giving campaign on his blog around the time of Deepawali, as the word spread about Deepwish, he attracted a big following and it turned into a popular campaign. The effort has raised over Rs. 50,000. More important is the path it has created for future..
Some recent coverage/interviews –
GOONJ’s interview on Ecowalk the talk
You can also join GOONJ.. on Facebook