Friday, July 18, 2014

Goonj Founder and CEO visits IIM Raipur

Goonj Founder and CEO visits IIM Raipur
GOONJ was formed in 1999 by Anshu Gupta, together with his friends from the mass communication background. Anshu Gupta, Founder Director, GOONJ is the head of the organization which is governed by a five member governing body. The organization does not believe in a lot of hierarchical layers.

Channelizing the unused material lying idle in urban homes, to the far-flung villages of India as an important economic resource is the main theme of this NGO. Although they deal with all kinds of underutilized material but the prime focus is clothing, one of the most ignored basic needs of human kind.

GOONJ has its own offices and paid staff in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jalandhar & Patna.

Anyone irrespective of age, gender, education, nationality can volunteer with GOONJ in many different ways, even sitting at home. Visit their website for a list of volunteering opportunities or call up the GOONJ office (011- 41401216,26972351) to find out what suits your circumstances.

Main Initiatives:
With its primary focus on channelizing resources from the cities to the villages GOONJ has the following programmes:

Cloth For Work : 
Why a basic need of entire human kind is treated as disaster relief material? Why do we treat Cloth as mere charitable object- to donate!!
In retaliation, GOONJ is using underutilized cloth & other old material as a powerful & proven tool for social change, huge resource for rural/slum development & a valuable asset for income generation. One of such story is about cleaning a pond in village Churali in Orissa. Villagers decided to clean up the village pond; their only source of water for the entire year. More than 500 people got clothes under the ‘Cloth for Work’ initiative. The best part is that now the people are actively involved in keeping the water body and their village clean.

School to School : 
‘School to School’ is a unique solution to a problem faced by thousands of remote village schools, which lack infrastructure and basic facilities, critical for a child to have basic experience of schooling. GOONJ’s School to School (S2S) initiative is addressing the educational needs of thousands of remote & resource starved village/ slum schools by channelizing under-utilised material of city’s affluent schools. 

Not Just a Piece of Cloth : 
This is a global initiative highlighting the natural biological process but a highly taboo issue of menses. Countless women use ash, jute gunny bags, rags, even plastic bags, in the absence of a clean piece of cloth, for menses. Thus countless women around the world not only don’t have the sanitary pad for this basic need but they also lack awareness about the related health and hygiene issues. 
 Goonj is committed to mainstream the issue by getting the masses across the globe to speak about the issue. As a cheap and sustainable solution to this issue, Goonj has a nodal production centre in Delhi (India) where we deal with over 1000 tonnes of material every year. Here we make MY Pads from un-wearable cotton waste cloth. 

Rahat :  
Isn't winter an annual disaster for a person who doesn’t have adequate shelter and clothing. Millions of people still don’t get two square meals a day or lakhs of women face indignity due to lack of clean cloth during menses; for them buying enough cloth or woollens for their families is certainly out of question.
Over the last 14 years Goonj has built a reliable and time-tested network in both the rural & urban areas. This network means our wide spread presence, which helps us respond to any kind of geographical and cultural aspect.

Goonj does not just give clothes to the needy, it gives them a bit of their dignity back.”                  
                                                   -         Democratic World (April, 2012)   

My Experience in a GOONJ Session

First and foremost, a heartiest thanks and congratulations to Kartavya for organizing the session. Let me tell you about my experience. it was just an hour or so with Mr Anshu Gupta, founder of Goonj, yet I felt more emotions in that short span of time than I did in my remaining hours of existence. It was a turmoil really.

It started with a story of the rickshaw puller whose full time occupation was to carry the dead bodies of those unfortunate ones who die on the roads, with no family to cremate them. The number of dead bodies used to go up in the winters in such a manner that he was unable to perform his duties in his limited area of few kilometres.

Saddest part of the story was the statements of the rickshaw puller's little daughter. She said " Sometimes, I cuddle up with the dead bodies to keep myself warm. It's better that way. Dead bodies don't change sides and disturb me."

As if that was not enough to rattle the emotional pots, he continued with the stories and practices used in India for handling the female hygiene issues. It was really shocking and equally shameful to know that due to lack of facilities during menstruation, 41% girls in Nepal and 28% in India go absent from school or perform poorly. And around 70% women in India say that their family cannot afford the sanitary pads. The situation is frightening, to say the least.

Well, It most certainly was an eye opening hour. And if you ask me about the five things which I took away from the session, they would be:
      1. Change of Perception: I realized that my thinking was developing to be of anti-philanthropic nature because of the adversities and dark aspects of the practical world. Mr Anshu Gupta came as a torch the dark tunnel.

      2. Reality of the Dark World: I think we all realized that there is a parallel dark and brutal world out there, hidden behind these veils of malls, KFCs and McDs. It has been there since our inception. Some choose to ignore while some are unaware.

      3. The Need to Address ‘Taboos’: It is not only important but also urgent to address the issues that are considered to be the ‘Untouchable in Noble Society’. These issues are prohibited to talk about and therefore are in immediate need of addressal. One of such topics was touched upon and it was something which is affecting 80% of the female population in India.

      4. My Responsibilities: It was perhaps the best take away of the session that I realized that it is our responsibility to make the things better, not only for us but also for others That I owe a debt to the society and if I die without paying the EMIs, it will be a sad moment indeed.

      5. The Way: After realizing that I have to do something, defining that elusive ‘something’ is extremely difficult as we are less experienced in the domain. Mr Anshu not only suggested different ways to contribute to the movement but also kindled that spark, needed for the start.

At last, a line said by Mr Anshu Gupta, a food for your thought,
" What different are you from a cockroach, if you are living for YOUR survival. Your black suits and seven digit salaries will not stop you from churning in your grave."

Looking forward to many such interactive and motivating sessions in the future.

Sudhanshu Gupta
PGP 2014-16