Anshu Gupta, a public relations professional, decided to give up his career 15 years ago to do something about the lack of basic clothing for the poor in India, who often die from exposure in winter.
He and his wife began by donating 67 pieces of spare clothing from their own wardrobes. These days, 2.2 million pounds of clothing each year are processed annually by his organization.
What makes their project different is that nothing is given away; Gupta’s motto is “clothing for dignity,” and he has put in place a Cloth for Work program that enhances people’s independence.
Thanks to his group, GOONJ, villagers are digging wells, laying roads, and repairing school buildings in exchange for clothing, instead of cash. And nothing goes to waste. Everything is reused or reformed into something useful — a bag, quilt, or yoga mat.