And they have been doing this by creating a self-sustaining cycle - accumulate underutilised urban materials (cloth and other items) and channelise them to those who actively participate in solving community problems in villages.
An elder in the Baksa district of Assam, for instance, couldn't remember the last time anyone had repaired the water canal in their village. Water scarcity has always been a big issue in this area every summer, especially for agricultural work.
Goonj collaborated with the community members and a local NGO and decided to mend the canal under their Cloth For Work initiative.
Kits of clothing were transferred to community members who participated in fixing the canal, and served as a motivation for them to get involved in solving their issues. Over 3,000 such activities have taken place across the country in the past year.
Besides empowering rural communities to address and resolve their own issues related to education, employment, health and infrastructure, Goonj are best known for their disaster relief and rehabilitation work.
For example, after major floods hit Bihar in 2008, Goonj began working across the state on various initiatives. Mahavir had a small hairdressing shop which got swept away during the floods, along with his dreams of building a sustainable career out of it.
Goonj began identifying people like Mahavir with low investment occupations and provided them basic occupational starter kits in return for community work.
With a starter kit in hand, and a renewed sense of hope, Mahavir began rebuilding his shop and earning money again. He said: “It was a tough time, as I didn't have any money but thanks to Vaapsi I got a kit. People don't understand the importance of small things. Actually they make a big difference.”
On the other side, Goonj work hard in cities to build a network of supporters who not only give, but are made aware of the real needs and struggles of rural communities.
Last year, Goonj worked in over 2,900 villages, provided more than 1,00,000 family clothing kits, and delivered disaster relief kits to over 20,000 affected families across 15 states. Support them so they can continue strengthening bridges between rural and urban India.