Friday, September 24, 2010

Goonj - Echoing and spreading happiness around

Several months passed and the crazy lazy mind is awaken to the echoes of a good dialogue that it heard on Friday.

Last Friday was tangled with different things for this crazy lazy mind. Why So? Yes against the usual routine of getting up early dressing up in the usual salwar or trousers and moving to office by bus, grabbing a cup of coffee and getting to work and then waiting for 5 pm…and then just getting back home…thinking what next for the evening..it was very different…

Owing to a celebration on diversity at our office, all of aa sudden I decided to dress up in Saree and get to office in a different get up than the usual way…now I do not know how to wear saree , so had to wake up very early around 5.30 a.m against the regular late mornings L… and then unable to walk comfortably yet again against the normal routine of getting into the late shuttle I sought the help of my bike and flew to office chilling out amidst the cool cloudy breezes that crossed by in the morning when I was riding my pleasure around 7.30 a.m…

Having reached office by 8.15 I had to have breakfast at our office. Feeling so nervous I tried calling my mom and friend to soften my nervousness….struggling to walk around, climb up and down the stairs with the saree , couple of hours passed by and later I was bit fine. It was 11 and I managed to walk around a bit to meeting to a meeting room…10 mins went by looking around people in different ethnic wears we had our office MD himself start the show, cracking a small joke on his ethnic dress, at the same bringing a serious personality infront of us. Yes, he is the THE man, the man of clothing..whose words are still echoing around the corners of my mind…

It was Anshu Gupta – the founder of a very famous NGO “Goonj”, who was going to share some of his work. During the intro session itself, we were warned by our MD thatwe would be shaken up afte listening to the great man’s speech..I ignored them..thought this is the way gr8 people introduce gr8 people…

Anshu flew as below:

One day Anshu caught sight of a strange quote in a auto that said something in hindi, which more or less meant, this auto brings the stray dead bodies to the Police. One week anshu roamed around with the auto driver everday from 6 a.m in the morning until 10,11 p.m at night as it demanded….and saw that for each dead body the driver was paid rs 20 and 20 m piece of cloth…..most of the deaths were due to scarcity of basic needed clothing…just within a radius of 4-5 kms the auto driver used to find 8-10 dead ebodies..more during winter…I was shocked to hear how the people who lack clothes try to warm them up during winter….seems the auto driver’s daughter used to hug a dead body and sleep as “ Lash koi thang nahi karthe” meaning the dead bodies never cause any trouble as they do not turn here and there….Not sure how correctly I got but I also heard in remote villages…sometimes they dig the ground and sleep and cover with somethings to protect themselves from winter….this is how Anshu introduced the value of clothing…further to this I was even more shaken when he started speaking about the basic need for girls the sanitary napkins…being a girl I was embarrassed to discuss such necessities with my pals….the way anshu explained in front of all was … no words…I never thought about the poor gals…how they would manage..when heard from anshu the ways such issues are tackled in remote villages was even more shocking…

Seems the dirtiest piece of cloth was being used thinking ie. To remove some curse from the body…wash it dry it…half..in a corner of the house..and when the kids/male members of the house return the partially dried cloth was hidden somewhere…the amount of infection that was spreading is unaware by the illiterate folks…Also the same piece of cloth was shared across several members of the family…such issues had caused several infections for the female members more in the villages…The extent of infection was so much that in some villages of Tamil Nadu uterus was removed for most of the ladies…what a thing….

If just there was sufficient cloth then such problems would never occur…So did Anshu think and started with Goonj…which is an NGO that collects old clothes from several sources organizes them, distributes them to the needies at the villages…and gets some useful work done…Some of their initiatives like Cloth for work, scholl to school were mind blowing to listen and watch about…

Cloth for work…nothing but just motivate the downtrodden’s in the villages to fix the basic infra issues at their village in return for cloth….Some of the tasks were to weave a sheet tat could be used to cover over to protect from winter….the lady who weaves gets some money and could sell it just for rs35……next there was a waste land with full of stones…were Goonj members got the ground cleaned by the villagers for cloth in return of cloth and started yielding in the waste land…again cloth and that raises several useful resources…

Next School to school – Nothing but connecting a Urban school to a rural one. The toys, books, school bags wasted unknowingly or partially used by kids…were provided to connected rural schools….the toys served as motivation for some of the kids to turn up to schools…the poor kids who were unable to read due to lack of books were adequately benefited by this…

At a comedy note Anshu started speaking about the clothes that are thrown or donated by people….He said people never throw clothes that are really needed to support the poor…Seems most of the chudidhar bottoms came without nada…as the people were removing and saving it for different use……… Also most clothes coming from cities were T shirts or Jeans or Kurtas….which was smartly converted into midis and distributed to the poor people at north as it was north tradition…what a thought…

Next e.g..nighties and gowns were sent to kerala region thinking intelligently as in Kerala’s tradition a nighty or gown could be worn as a full time dress…amazing thinking…

In this manner..with whatever clothing Goonj was collecting from various parts were creatively recycled….the creativity was just gushing out….

At the end..anshu shared a couple of slides distinguishing between a downtrodden people with and without a decent piece of cloth..uf…that will definitely light a spark in who so ever sees the slide…

Seems in one villages there lived a tribe or set of people who due to lack of money used to steal from rat holes and eat the stored food due to lack o fmoney…Goonj members have reached such people and have changed their way of living through clothing for work….

One such baby without a cloth looks so bad…but the same kid with a descent piece of cloth was smiling with full confidence and so on…

At the closing note anshu shared how difficult it is to act rather than just listening to such inspirational talks and simply moving forward….I was completely touched…

This weekend when I was at home I truly thought over and started giving my old clothes, the clothes that were really needed in a good condition to the poor people I knew…until I listened to Anshu’s talk although I was giving away my old dresses some were just getting bad at a corner…so was the impact of Anshu’s talk upon me…hope who ever reads this gains a bit of Anshu’s motivation and adds to helping and spreading happiness around!!

Goonj definitely echoes it’s spirit with its creative ideas and continuous support to the needy!!

Hats off to the entire team!!

Cheers,

Akshatha

Post a Comment