Lalganj is a quaint village in Vaishali district of Bihar.. one of the first districts where Goonj started working more than 10 years ago, just after the Kosi Floods. Over the years Goonj’s work has grown deeper especially in flood-prone areas of the state. When our team recently visited a local Aanganwadi and primary school in Lalganj the sight of kids walking barefoot, wearing torn shoes or slippers with loose straps or sandals with broken heels, was common. We were told this is how they come to school even in harsh winter or rain. On asking a
fourth-grader about his torn uniform, he nervously muttered but telling answer was “Father drinks toddy (local alcoholic beer).” as he ran off to duck any further interaction. Children’s mind is a blank slate without any prejudices, inhibitions and conditioning and that’s why their immediate surroundings, parents & teachers play a huge role in their development. At Goonj we strongly believe that like city school kids, kids in small village schools must also learn about self-reliance, collective responsibility and self-empowerment rather than charity and dependency.
Since we already had an ongoing connection with the local community of Lalganj we quickly mobilized the villagers, parents, teachers and kids and motivated them to collectively take up massive cleanliness drive around their school premises. For their efforts on making their children’s school a better place, each participant received a carefully curated ‘Goonj School Kit’ comprising basic school material, stationery, toys and a pair of new shoes.
Saraswati Devi, from the village, said about the work, “It was different… People who normally don’t take part in anything actually turned up for this.” We believe that the world revolves around love, empathy and valuing human dignity and our children must imbibe these values to be better citizens of the future.
These shoes are reached out under a joint giving effort of GOONJ & TOMS (http://www.toms.com/