A women’s group accepts throwaways and uses them to fund the education of underprivileged girls. Liffy Thomas reports
What do you do to that designer sari with bold embroidery, sequins and lace work that you wore for your wedding reception, but has gone out of fashion now? Do you wrap it well and keep it safely in the almirah for sentimental reasons? Or, do you pass it on to a sister or cousin who doesn’t care much about fashion?
The next time you are left with items that you want to dispose of, think of Natpu (New Association to Promote Upliftment of Women). With the odds and ends you give, it helps in funding the education of young girls.
Started in 1987 by Maya Narasimhan and her like-minded friends from the neighbourhood and those in the vicinity, the not-for-profit organisation has funded the education of hundreds of young girls by raising funds from the thrift store it runs in Alwarpet. It is based on the philosophy of “less is more” and “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
“Some people give us absolute junk, but we manage to make something creative out of it,” says Maya, showing us colourful bath mats made with torn clothes. Over 1,000 such mats stand testimony to how well some materials can be reused.
Some months ago, a family handed over articles of a lady who passed away. Natpu facilities sale of such articles through an annual jumble sale. This way, a Banarasi sari may get sold for Rs.5,000. Crockery sets, old cassettes, wall paintings … everything gets re-used this way.
And this helps fund the activities of the centre. “Very rarely have we thrown away things,” says Maya, whose centre also doubles as a tailoring unit to help women from the economically disadvantaged sections.
Last year, close to Rs. 2 lakh was raised to fund the education of 25-35 girl students of classes XI and above through sales from the thrift shop. Natpu has evolved over the years. It also runs a tailoring unit at Ramapuram.
It has turned a portion of the centre in Alwarpet into a reading room, where neighbours can read books, while children play with used toys.
Natpu has its office and training centre at Srinivasa Gandhi Nilayam, 332 Ambujammal Street, Alwarpet. For details, call Jayalakshmi at 9445189512 or Maya at 9940135132.