When floods strike, children can ‘bank’ on these clothes

Local NGO Gramya Vikas Manch (GVM) has been working with children in Nalbari district, Assam since its inception. A grassroots organization which focuses on awareness-building and community mobilisation, GVM works to ensure every child and family is granted their rights. CRY partners with GVM in 18 villages under Barbhag and Pub Nalbari development Block of the Nalbari district.

One of the rights CRY and GVM strive to promote is children’s right to participation. To date, more than 700 children in 18 villages have been organized into 25 children’s groups. A forum for discussion and action on issues directly affecting the groups’ primary stakeholders- children- these collectives organize different activities in their respective villages including meetings with village elders/leaders to share different information with villagers.

Children standing with the latest 'deposit' at the clothes bank.
It was at one such meeting that the idea of setting up a clothes bank was raised. 8 of the villages where CRY and GVM work are situated in the lower line of the Brahmaputra, surrounded by the rivers Pagladiya, Baraliya and Nona. Given their proximity to the river bank, the villages are prone to flooding in summer and many of the villagers and children have had to cope with the loss of clothes, belongings and homes in the past.

Recognizing the need (and possibility) to limit recurring losses with every flood, the children’s collectives decided to set up a clothes bank in their villages. While operating on the same principles of deposit/loans, these clothes banks have little in common with their financial counterparts. Managed exclusively by children, the bank’s ‘reserves’ come from group members who collect and store their unused clothes in safe houses. All items are entered in an inventory and subject to regular stock taking. When floods strike, the clothes are given (at no cost) to children affected by the disaster irrespective of their caste, religion, gender or socio-economic status. As time passes, what started as an initiative of children by children and for children has come to symbolize brotherhood and harmony in the community and an asset all families can ‘bank’ upon in times of crises!

To know more about CRY and our work in Assam and across India, visit www.cry.org

*all photos taken with consent of the children.

Labels: , , ,