Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Goonj collection centre in Bangalore. I went there to donate athletic shoes with studs as they refurbish them and donate them to poor children who cannot afford them.
I also went to learn more about the cloth pads they make for rural women. They have a terrific programme called Not Just a Piece of Cloth in which they take donated clothes that are torn (mostly dupattas and saris) and cut them into sanitary napkins which they donate to rural women around the country. One pack (which sells for about ₹30) contains 3 sets of 5 pads. When they distribute them they also run workshops about hygiene. It’s important they are doing this not only because it’s more environmentally sustainable than plastic pads on the market, but also because there are all sorts of dangers associated with women using various substances like mattress padding, leaves, or a sari blouse piece with metal hooks. The pads they make are unstitched so that they can clean them better and adjust the thickness as necessary.
The way they sponsor this programme is by getting regular folks to sponsor distribution by donating ₹1200 to them. This will help to supply 40 women with menstrual pads as well as undergarments, which they also make for women who need it.
Not Just a Piece of Cloth is a great project because it helps women become safer and cleaner, sustains the environment, and produces livelihood for the many people who sort through donations and help produce these products.
Goonj accepts all sorts of items for donation, all of which they refurbish in some way before giving them out. They also make all sorts of bags and toys out of torn cloth, which they sell to urban markets. There are collection sites all over the country and they accept many items that you probably have around your house collecting dust:
♼ bed sheets
♼ dry rations
♼ books & notebooks & stationary
♼ water bottles
♼ lunch boxes
♼ toys & games
♼ paper (including paper that has been used on 1 side)
♼ school uniforms
♼ newspapers & magazines