Gupta , Anshu | CITATION
Goonj is now a movement working in twenty-one of India’s twenty-nine states, and is much more than a channel for clothing and other recycled articles. Through its staff, its thousands of volunteers, and numerous partner organizations, Goonj redistributes contributed items, and processes cloth and others to fit the identified needs of recipient groups. Dormant, underutilized cloth—including cloth scraps and loose threads—are used to fabricate essential articles like rugs, blankets, mattresses, and even clean cloth sanitary pads, as a hygienic alternative to the rags that poor girls and women use during their menses. Goonj has branded them “MY Pads,” producing to date over three million sanitary pads that are the cheapest in the world, while raising the taboo subject of menstrual hygiene as an issue of social concern.
The Goonj strategy involves the poor in identifying their needs, employs them in recycling and fabrication, and inspires poor communities to undertake projects like building bridges and repairing schools in exchange for clothes and other essential articles. Every year, over a thousand such projects have been undertaken in rural India under Goonj’s “Cloth for Work” initiative, a program that innovatively converts cloth into a development resource.
Today, Goonj handles more than one million kilograms of materials annually; has a wide network of collection and processing centers; and runs a vigorous program that educates the public in sustained and responsible giving. It has had an impact on the lives of millions. Paradoxically, Goonj is concerned less with its organizational growth than with the spread of its ideas. Gupta says, “We live in a world which has problems in volumes. We need solutions in volumes, and people who work on these in volume. We all need to get up and do something.”
In electing Anshu Gupta to receive the 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity.
The five 2015 Magsaysay awardees join the community of 307 other Magsaysay laureates who have received Asia’s highest honor to date. This year’s Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during formal Presentation Ceremonies to be held on Monday, 31 August 2015 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, to which the public is cordially invited. ”