From an idea, a distant dream, Trans-India Challenge has come a long way. From charting out mammoth logistical developments to itinerary mapping to finally a field visit to India, meeting Goonj team has been no less than a rock and roll journey. David Campbell (crew member, Trans India Challenge) recently visited Goonj’s Delhi office and further delved deeper into our implementation field in Bihar witnessing large scale community driven development works. In Saudagar Tola village (Madhepura, Bihar) – a flood prone area, he saw how an army of 120 people collectively built a check dam to prevent flood destroying their homes, paddy fields and inundating the village. Speaking to Shaligram Kumar, a local resident who witnessed the devastation informs “Suddenly, the speed of water increased, breaking the canal. I saw the water enter my house and my fields getting submerged under 2ft of water”. This was the plight for most of the families in that area. More than a year after the floods (which is a recurring phenomenon) Shaligram and rest of the villagers are now better prepared and intends to undertake more such community works.
In Alam Nagar (Madhepura, Bihar), he saw group of women channelizing tons of un-wearable, cloth materials into upcycled products like Sujni (Mattress) and Aasan (Mats) giving them dignified means of sustenance through their work and craftsmanship. The transformation of the urban discard (which otherwise becomes waste) into recycled and upcycled products is a fittest example of circular economy in action, but what goes beyond is using such material as a powerful resource to trigger development activities. The model not just brings an overwhelming novelty to rest of the world but also nurtures the principle of preserving the dignity of people. In Karuadih village, David has been part of one of the hundreds of “Chuppi Todo Baithak”- Break The Silence Meetings (menstrual health awareness session) organized by Goonj team every year with local people where women spoke of their menstrual health challenges, shared their stories and the taboos binding them. A visit to the local Chehak centre in Sahasara village of Panapur district was another insightful journey on daily reality of children in village schools surviving on limited resource and opportunities. These Chehak centers, built post Kosi Floods (2008 ) in Bihar, as an informal center for learning, for the affected kids.
The TransIndia Challenge initiated by Prof. Alan Braithwaite will financially support Goonj’s work on circular economy, spread awareness about its unique approach in academia and through research. The Challenge as bizarre, as crazy and as adventurous it may appeal will hopefully open up larger discussion on such unique approaches in circular economy.
Chuppi Todo Baithak
Community building a Check dam
Up-cycling of under- utilized products