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Cloth for work

Addressing urgent, complex and multi-faceted issue of rural poverty, and development with urban discard..

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Discarded cloth and other material considered a waste and burden in the cities from growing consumerist culture, is invaluable resource for impoverished communities in rural India. Goonj champions neglected issues and the basic needs of people by connecting the cities and villages by converting discard to dignity. Goonj is involving rural communities in solving their own problems like roads, water, environment, education, health etc using their own local resource and traditional wisdom. With GOONJ’s Cloth for Work, rural communities are encouraged to participate in countless grassroots rural development activities on self identified issues like digging of wells, making bamboo bridges, sanitation, drives, road repair, school building and countless other activities encouraging and inspiring many more to take action against their own problems. While the developmental activities address the common issues that the community face, their participation is rewarded with Goonj's carefully packed 'Family Kit' with basic essentials like clothing, quilt, mats, etc for the participants, thereby exchanging material with labour as alternative currencies for a parallel economy that is more egalitarian and inclusive in nature.
Neev (under Cloth for work) means foundation, is a comprehensive village development plan which aims to resolve all the issues of a particular village holistically. The interventions are sustained over a period of time and are under continuous monitoring with periodic mid course corrections along the project span. Under Neev 20 villages of two states in India will be targeted. Each Neev implementation will entail a period of 11 months devoted to complete implementation. Each Implementation period will be preceded and succeeded by a one month Pre survey and one month Impact assessment survey respectively. Thus in the period of 36 months 60 new villages of each state will be under Neev Implementation.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Goonj actively works with rural population and disaster affected communities. The project beneficiaries belong to the marginalized communities belonging to remote parts of India, who are struggling for opportunities and basic needs due to in-competencies or neglect of the local governance. Our solutions are designed not for, but with village communities, towards their betterment so as to provide them access to material, information, healthcare and education. The beneficiaries would be families that belong to 20 villages from six states of India. The states are Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Overall 120 villages across six states of India will be targeted for this intervention. Goonj's Cloth for Work is multi pronged in its approach incorporating multiple perspectives, keeping pace with present consumption patterns of Indian urban as well as need of the rural masses.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Goonj has created a mass movement by shifting the power structures to rural poor. In the process it has not only brought dignity to the recipients, but also successfully repositioned material; especially clothing, a basic but unaddressed need.With discard of world as tool, Goonj focuses on strengthening people’s ability to manage their own development. Goonj has built powerful replicable model of empathy & solidarity between urban & rural masses,which focuses on eliminating poverty in dignified way. Goonj’s approach features a fully participatory planning and implementation process, reflecting indigenous knowledge and taking into account participants’ capacities and interests.Through Goonj’s investment in marginalized communities over time,rural people have gained greater bargaining power for access to services, inputs and markets.This work is transitioning from mere assistance to empowerment of rural communities & individuals,from inertia to innovation and creativity.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Founded by Anshu Gupta, Goonj is 19 years old organization working on utilizing urban material as a tool for development (www.goonj.org). Dealing with more than 3000 tons of urban material annually, Goonj reaches these material to rural communities with dignity, as a parallel currency as they take up large scale development works. We empower them to address range of issues like water, sanitation, infrastructure, agriculture, menstrual health, education using their local resource and wisdom.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

With a strong passion for journalistic photography, the founder came across Habib bhai in the narrow lanes of old Delhi, who was occupied in collecting dead bodies from the streets for a meagre Rs 20 and a white cloth. With his work growing manifold in winters, it was here when Anshu realized the importance of clothing out of the 3 basic necessities of life (Food,shelter,clothing). He underwent a paradigm shift and questioned the basic idea that winters didn’t kill people lack of clothing did.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The villages we work with are some of the poorest, marginalised and the most opportunities and resource starved in rural India. Their state of poverty has been a result of a host of factors. The most prominent of them being the continued state of neglect by the local governance coupled with over-dependence on agriculture as the source of primary livelihood. Not just being landless, the decreasing size of land holdings has also not helped their situation. The chronic poverty of individuals influences their economic and social well being and quality of life. These villages as a community also have several neglected issues on basic aspects like roads, electricity, water, education, health etc. which influence their economic, social and cultural well being. This highlights a symbiotic influence of an individual’s struggle on a community’s struggle and vice versa.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Our existing rural and urban network of partner organizations is backbone of our model. GOONJ works throughout the year with urban and rural masses, involving them, engaging them in taking action for change. In cities we work with corporates, schools, collages, NGO’s, small businesses, resident welfare associations and on individual level- housewives, professionals, retired people, school children in activities of spreading awareness, collecting material, sorting, packing or distributing. In villages network has grown to over 250 implementation partners including units of India army, NGOs, CBOs, panchayats, social activities and Ashoka fellows. They help us access most remote areas, get insights about the community and effectuate an ongoing engagement with communities, allowing us to work long term. This nationwide network of urban and rural partnerships has helped us spread our work our work throughout country efficiently.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Our deep knowledge and understanding of the work has been built by valuing the local village wisdom about their problems and ecosystem,rich natural resources.The communities have strong resilience and capability for hard work,with an in-built strong sense of pride and self respect.In big metros, there is absence of a reliable,credible channel to mobilize their underutilized material.Strong culture of giving,Many people have their roots in villages,People want to contribute for a positive change.

Geographic Focus

Most prosperous metros of India and poorest parts of 22 states of India.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This idea has already been implemented in some parts of Bihar and is being started in parts of Odisha, Bundelkhand, Maharshtra and Rajasthan.The unit of change in the project is a village, we intend to work for 25 villages simultaneously for 6 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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