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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Be careful about donating clothes

Uma has some information here about where to go to donate old clothes, but I'd make careful enquiries before donating any, if I were you. When I travelled through the tsunami-affected areas of Tamil Nadu in January this year, one of the common themes I encountered was how donating clothes was a waste, and how no one wanted them and they would just form colourful heaps of garbage on the sides of roads. (And we have enough of those already.) I wrote about it here and here, and Dilip D'Souza, who travelled with me, mentioned it here and here.

One of the main reasons these clothes go waste is that their intended recepients are not beggars, but proud people hit by circumstances who don't necessarily want old, faded hand-me-downs, which are also sometimes inappropriate given the kind of lives they lead. However, if the NGO concerned is making an effort to make those clothes presentable and acceptable to those they are intended for, as the Rotary Club of Chennai did after the tsunami, then it might be worth it. Otherwise they will just end up piled up on the streetside.

Gaurav brought this subject to my attention now, and has posted about it here.

23 Comments:

Blogger uma said...

amit, i checked and the people organising this collection drive are, i believe, both bona fide and sensible enough to sort out the clothes before offering them for relief. i hesitate to post their names because i got this address as a forwarded sms, but they're ok.

Tue Aug 02, 07:17:00 AM GMT-7  
Blogger amit varma said...

In that case, Uma, no issues. It's always better to check, that's all, because too many old clothes hamper rather than help relief efforts, and good intentions are often not enough: you also have to know what you're doing. If you know and trust these guys, that's good enough for me.

Tue Aug 02, 10:40:00 AM GMT-7  
Blogger uma said...

yes, i do trust them, and i also went there in the morning yesterday with our stuff, to make sure of the address etc before posting.

Tue Aug 02, 04:42:00 PM GMT-7  
Blogger Neela said...

amit, uma:

on an aside, given this inappropriate clothes issue, wouldn't it be great if we could have some sort of Goodwill stores model in India - where there are thrift shops that sell cast off (but good condition) clothing, furniture etc etc and with the proceeds build communities? Thinking aloud there are several issues, not the least being that India is not a disposable-happy nation. But still..

Although this might not be relevant to the current issue, speaking of clothes donation, I found this link recently through a fairly cool site (goodnewsindia) : anshu gupta of goonj. the link is www.goonj.com. The organization seems to be one who actually does this clothes donation with sensitivity. It might be worth finding out whether they take clothes from Bombay or if there are similar institutions in Bombay.

n!

Wed Aug 03, 12:20:00 PM GMT-7  
Blogger uma said...

neela, thanks for this. (good news india is a nice site - i hadn't seen it before.) goonj seems to be exactly the kind of project we need. that url doesn't work, though. i found this and this. as there's a phone number listed, i'll call up anshu gupta today and ask if he has a project in mumbai.

Wed Aug 03, 05:19:00 PM GMT-7  
Blogger uma said...

hi all: i spoke to anshu gupta at goonj today and there's good news: they are setting up base in mumbai and are coordinating for space, etc. i'll post further details shortly. amit, dilip, neela, charu and others: thanks for taking this further!

Thu Aug 04, 12:38:00 AM GMT-7  
Blogger uma said...

Okay, i have an update for the Goonj contact person and their just-identified collection centre in Mumbai: the contact person is called Jasmine, her number (this information is being provided here with her permission) is 9324222219, and her email jessy75@rediffmail.com.

The collection address is:
RBI Society
A4 Akshya Bldg
(in the lane opp Food Inn)
Lokhandwala
Andheri West

Jasmine requests that anyone going across to this collection centre should please call her in advance, so that she can ensure that someone will be present to collect the materials.

They are looking for donations of: clothes, sheets, dry rations (oil, sugar, rice etc), medical supplies and - important - SCHOOL supplies.

They will also be looking for volunteers to help with the sorting, but that will be the next step, afgter the collection commences.

For those who came in to this discussion late, here is some information on Goonj. And here is an article about their work. Briefly, Goonj seems to have pioneered a reuse model that works on three links: collection, processing, and distribution. Here are a couple of extracts from this article in Good News India (itself a fine site): "Garments and linen are inspected for cleanliness, washed or repaired where necessary, folded with care, slotted to various destinations and packed in clean sacks. Goonj does not accept or distribute undergarments like bras, panties and briefs, as these have the potential to hurt recipients' self-esteem. Unusable or rejected pieces are further processed to create saleable articles that fund Goonj's operations. The most popular is the door mat, made of twisted rag strips, hand-sewn together... At collection camps, donors often get pumped up enough to bring in old newspapers and bottles which are sold, with proceeds to Goonj. Companies let Goonj carry away heaps of discarded xerox copies. Goonj brings them over and pounces on the blank-side. They make note pads out of them for sale. Goonj has never bought paper for correspondence or promotions. It uses only discarded one-side unused paper....Goonj has now begun the 'School to School Programme' which seeks to channel city children's old books, lunch boxes, water bottles, uniforms shoes and so on to rural children. There is also their winter-watch, when Goonj volunteers patrol Delhi's streets to give away warm blankets to shivering poor."

Folks, I do apologise for this long comment, but I am a big fan of recycling and this seems like a sensitive and effecive project.

Fri Aug 05, 07:37:00 AM GMT-7  
Anonymous RAVINDRA SANGWAI said...

I read about Goonj in local marathi papr of Nagpur city.I have been giving away useful good quality of materials to charity organizations having a core group who have been associated with RSS.At least I am sure of delivery to rightful person.For, eg, Vanwasi Kalyanashram working for upliftment of 'Vanwasi'without fanfare.
I suggest the same to your readers,if Goonj like charities are not nearby.
Ravindra Sangwai

Sat Sep 02, 10:23:00 AM GMT-7  
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Thu Nov 23, 10:24:00 PM GMT-8  
Blogger aashish said...

A great place to donate clothes is Goonj. They have a nationwide operation, and very conviniently located collection centers. People dontate one of their bedrooms as a collection center...least we can do is donate our old clothes instead of throwing them

http://www.goonj.info/collection.php

Thu Apr 23, 03:34:00 PM GMT-7  
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Wed Feb 20, 04:00:00 AM GMT-8  
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Hi!!

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Wed Feb 20, 04:00:00 AM GMT-8  
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V work with hiv infected affected families, children, migrant families and youth.

Looking forward for your positive response.
Regards,
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9820214688

Wed Feb 20, 04:01:00 AM GMT-8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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V work with hiv infected affected families, children, migrant families and youth.

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Wed Feb 20, 04:01:00 AM GMT-8  

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