There is only a school children sign board still standing tall, rest all is shattered after Uttarakhand floods. Know what lifts up their spirit, listen their stories of rejuvenation. Uttar Yatra is a journey to witness Goonj’s wonderful efforts to lift up people’s spirit in the spiritual lands of Uttarakhand.
“GOONJ…A Voice, an effort”
Goonj is the first one to highlight clothing as a basic but an unaddressed need which deserves a place on development agendas. Creating value by re-positioning discard of urban households as a development resource for villages, Goonj has amazingly evolved the genesis of a parallel economy- which is not ‘Cash’ based but ‘Trash’ based. Implementing two powerful new currencies for development work, i.e., Material and Labor.
During Uttar Yatra we would be understanding Goonj’s vision and highly efficient implementation model withstanding even in most difficult terrains of Uttarakhand.
“Anshu Gupta – The Clothing Man of India”
Anshu Gupta, popularly known as the Clothing Man is the Founder of an Indian based nonprofit – Goonj. One of India’s leading social entrepreneurs, Anshu brings to the table an instinctive empathy and connect with people, moving the focus from the conventional – giver’s pride to the unconventional – receiver’s dignity. Asia’s Noble, the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award 2015, conferred to him credited him for ‘his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity’.
We would start Uttar Yatra with an enriching session with Mr. Anshu Gupta.
“Cloth For Work”
Goonj works on turning old material as a resource for hundreds of rural development activities. Communities have built huge bamboo bridges, dug up wells, have done bunding of acres of land, developed small irrigation canals, have built drainage systems, built village schools and have taken up massive exercises of repairing roads, developing water harvesting systems to cleaning up water bodies. All these works are done not by paying wages to people but by making them understand their own community power, using old material as a reward. Goonj is using material from the cities as an entry point into people’s lives. This is a work where not only the old underutilized material fills up the gaps of resources in development works but is also dignifying the act of Giving, now thousands of people don’t get material as charity or donation but earn as reward in lieu of their work.
“Not just a piece of cloth (NJPC) – A million voices”
Goonj started the NJPC (Not Just a Piece of Cloth) initiative in 2005. NJPC is focused on opening up the most taboo and ignored subject of menstrual hygiene: a female health hazard by involving the masses in generating an affordable cloth napkin. The NJPC programme is a nationwide intervention, which not only starts with providing a physical product but stresses more on changing practices, behavioural patterns, education and replication in the long term. MY Pad, Goonj’s clean cloth pad is developed out of old cloth collected from urban masses. It is made with highly indigenous processes while also educating the user women to make it on their own.
1st June, 2019 (Day 1): Induction and Orientation for all the participants at Goonj’s Sarita Vihar, New Delhi office. Interactive session with Goonj’s Founding Team and leadership. Leaving for Uttarkashi in the night.
2nd June, 2019 (Day 2): Reaching Uttarkashi via Dehradun. Interaction with Goonj’s Local team.
3rd June, 2019 (Day 3): Empathy Connects’ Sharing Circle, Field Visits, trekking to village, interaction with local community, witnessing Goonj’s work, pahadi home stays and local cuisines.
4th June, 2019 (Day 4): Empathy Connects’ Sharing Circle, Reflections, A ride to Sangam Chatti Valley, witnessing the outcomes of Uttarakhand Floods, bonefire at the bank of The Ganges.
5th June, 2019 (Day 5): Reflections and conclusions. Traveling back to Delhi to reach at around 8 PM. Yatra concludes!
Uttar Yatra begins in
Some of the amazing pictures of previous Uttar Yatra.
There is a lot of hard work, dedication, honesty in the members of Empathy Connects Yatras. Empathy Connects provided me a platform to explore myself and connect me with social entrepreneur and people who are doing good for society.
– Deepak Kumar
Founder & President at Pehal
Being a civil services aspirant, I was really excited about witnessing such a huge movement being organized. It has been a huge learning curve for me. It is said that a journey of thousand miles starts with a single step. I feel that this Halma Yatra with ‘Team Empathy Connects’ has been my first step.
– Prasanth Naidu
IIT Kharagpur, Civil Service Aspirant
Empathy Connects will let you discover the unknown, obscure places. The place and culture which you will not find in google. I got to know about more about rural India and how they are happily and sustain-ably fighting with their challenges. Yatra has broaden my perspective and knowledge. I will highly recommend this to the one who has inclination towards rural development and social change.
– Navneet Maheshwari
Sparc Fellow, Swaniti Initiative
It is just seemingly impossible to come out of the trip we went through. Such a learning exercise to know that how society as a whole can function in a much better way if we all unite to work towards a common motive with cooperation, coordination and discipline. Each Yatri possessed commendable experiences, a beautiful and innocent heart and smile on face.
– Mukul Kaushik
IIT Roorkee, ARB Trading
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