“Ek kambal chaiye mujhey..kuch garam kapra de do..mai mar jaunga..” (I need a blanket, give me a woolen, I will die..) – the elderly man, wearing a tattered jacket made of old jute sacks.. Kept on repeating. I had nothing to give.. I was just a student of mass communications who bunked classes to go to Uttarkashi in 1991 after a massive earthquake there. My first exposure to a disaster.. I certainly had no access to relief material !!
To be honest at that moment I didn’t even understand his insistence on a woolen or a blanket instead of food or shelter, though all I saw was damaged houses all across..
A few hours later as I found some space to sleep under a plastic sheet, I soon understood his desperation for woolens and blankets. Even today I shiver, remembering that night !!
My encounter with Habib in Delhi was another memory which refuses to go away – Habib used to pick up unclaimed dead bodies from the roads. While doing a story on him, his little daughter said- “When I feel cold, I hug the dead body and sleep.. It doesn’t trouble me, it doesn’t turn around”.
These are some disturbing realities of millions of people here.. Somewhere these encounters became the genesis of Goonj in a world where clothing as a basic need is still not on the list of subjects in the development space.
Goonj is turning 15 this year.. If nothing else, with all your love and trust we hope we have been able to spark camps and campaigns around this non-issue. We do hope that we have been able to bring to center stage the suffering and deaths due to lack of clothing in winters, and our persistent sharing of countless stories and models will help in moving it away from traditional charity to dignified giving!!
India still has millions of people wrapped in tattered gunny sacks or children struggling to keep themselves warm. There is still a huge gap in demand and supply, as we try to reach un-reached places… in tribal belts and in the mountains !!
This is an appeal to you, to act, to initiate campaign and also not to pack your unwanted woolens !! There is a continuous need for large quantities of good blankets, woolens, tarpaulins, socks.. Sujni is also a viable and affordable alternative we have evolved. Here is how you can contribute to the campaign- http://goonj.org/?page_id=2855
Year 2013 was about 3 major disasters – Uttarakhand floods, Odisha cyclone and Muzzaffarnagar riots. Goonj played its little role at all the 3 places and continues to do so. Do take out a few minutes to see and share the comprehensive reports.
3. Report on Rahat- Muzzaffarnagar Riots; www.goonj.org/Reports/Muzaffarnagar_Jan_14.pdf
Last but most important.. Join us on Feb 23rd in Delhi to listen to the ” 15 untold stories ” as Goonj turns 15 this year. For details, click here- http://goonj.org/images/anni_14.JPG