A cold winter morning of 2007, about 30 kms from Patna, I was in Gidhdha, a village of Moosahari's, a 35-lakh strong community spread across Bihar, known for eating even rats in dire circumstances of poverty & survival.
We were with people who often dig a hole in the nights to make their kids sleep and cover them with dry grass to save them from the cold.
This is a place where women tell you that they don't use ANYTHING during menses, and they can't take a bath because there is NOTHING to change
We felt criminal, wearing sweaters and jackets. For every person who dies because of cold and for every woman who goes through a bad phase without a piece of cloth, we found ourselves answerable…not because it's our doing but because we are not doing enough.
I remembered a radio channel holding hundreds of sweaters because they wanted a celebrity to hand it over to us and they were not getting dates. I remembered corporates who didn't send material to us because after collection they were waiting for the right moment to organize an event to do it. I also thought of millions of individuals who keep the material with them in search of a real needy or waiting for a disaster…
Don't you agree that for people who roam around naked in peak winters or die because of cold, winters are a much bigger annual disaster than earthquake or floods? For millions of women, even menses is a monthly disaster if they are forced to roam around even without a piece of cloth to use as a napkin.
We have decided to do something; every year in addition to our present role, we will take up 100 villages and ensure that no one in these villages remains without clothes. That means generating over 1,00,000 kgs of extra material every year. In 2007, we will do this for 100 such villages of Bihar and it has already started from Gidhha, the village I mentioned earlier.
If you understand the seriousness of this issue then I'm sure we will able to go way beyond this commitment. By simply giving us any unwanted cloth you have in your wardrobe, you can change the realities for these people.
Do visit http://www.goonj.info/clothincentive.php to see some realities.
Work on it. Open up your mind. Make some efforts…
More on our activities in the Newsletter..
Happy reading !!
* GOONJ's initiative 'Not just a piece of cloth' has made it to the final round of World Bank's Development Marketplace competition. We are one of the finalists out of 2900 entries from across the globe.
The winners will be declared in May after detailed presentations to the World Bank.