Goonj, the organisation that distributes used clothes among needy villagers, finds saris and children's clothing the most hard to come by

That rapid urban growth and increasing adaptation to a western lifestyle have their share of pitfalls is known to all by now; but the same are also seriously scuttling our chances to lend a helping hand to those in need despite our best intentions.

The non-governmental organisation Goonj, which runs a nationwide network of collecting used household materials from urban masses and distributing them to different villages, learnt the above lesson in a very curious way. While they received large quantities of materials, including dressing articles, from donors across the country, they hardly came by saris and children's wear in those parcels.

“We face a huge shortfall of saris. The sole reason is that urban women are increasingly giving up wearing saris and taking to western wear for daily use. Unfortunately, village women wear only saris and hence the supply-demand gap in the women's clothing sector is ever widening,” said Anshu Gupta, founder-director of Goonj.

To address the issue, Goonj recently launched the Vastra-Samman campaign with the slogan ‘Let a sari, which you don't wear anymore, cover up someone else…' to spread the awareness that a small gesture on our part could hugely benefit a significant section of the population not fortunate enough to afford a new sari and its corresponding accessories.

Adding that the campaign also focuses on donation of children's clothing, Mr. Gupta rued that emotional attachment to children's clothes and belongings often stop parents from parting with them. The organisation tried to deal with this matter by kick-starting the ‘Share the Language of Love' campaign in May.

“While we understand parents' attachment with their child's belongings and how much they cherish them, the idea of the campaign was to encourage parents to share the joy with underprivileged children and bring a smile on their faces,” he pointed out.

Word about the campaign was spread through posts on social networking sites, a video clip posted on YouTube and television advertisements.

The outcome, according to Mr. Gupta, has been phenomenal with kids themselves taking the lead role in sharing their belongings with their not-so-privileged counterparts.

Apart from sending across neatly-packed parcels, the children also sent several letters, chits and e-mails to Goonj in which they thanked the organisation for the initiative and hoped that the articles come to use for someone who needs them.

Eleven-year-old Mehul Chaudhury wrote from Ranchi: “I am very touched so I am sending these articles and lots of love to children who I wish would find them useful. Hope it reaches the right hands.”

Enthused by children's response, Goonj has also started a parallel campaign — School to School — of collecting uniforms, school bags, text books, note books, stationery, water bottles, lunch boxes, shoes and umbrellas usually discarded at the end of an academic session. “Since the old session got over recently with students moving on to new classes, we thought it was the best time to urge students to give up their unused school materials for larger good,” Mr. Gupta said.

Keywords: Goonjcharitysari

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