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.
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
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.
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.