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Homeless Youngsters Make Old Delhi Cleaner & Greener With The Help Of This Organisation

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Old Delhi, Okhla and Seelampur are the three extensive areas of Delhi, notorious for their pollution and shoddy state of waste management. Heaps of garbage, overflowing or clogged drains emitting an unbearable stench or residents throwing garbage out of the window onto the main roads – are quite common sights in the congested lanes of these localities. But, a group of young men and women is sprouting a long-due ‘clean’ change in these areas, registering the help of the homeless youth they have adopted. Marham (Muslim Association Rehabilitating Homeless and Mistreated) have changed the face of two erstwhile ‘filthy’ Mohallas in Old Delhi – Katra Gokulshah and Pahari Imli. Talking to Efforts For Good, founder Irtiza Qureshi details how they managed to achieve the impossible only through sheer zeal and persistence.

Marham Delhi Homeless
One of the street graffiti by the homeless youth

The story behind the start

Marham was started on the first day of 2016 with a unique objective, quite different from their present work. The organisation is dedicated to the rehabilitation of the homeless youth in Delhi. They have rescued around 16 young adults from the streets and trained them with different life skills. They even reunited five men with their long-lost families. But, soon Marham encountered a challenge.

“We used to train them in electrical repairing and plumbing. But soon we noticed it was not easy for them to find jobs due to the cut-throat competition and increasing unemployment rates,” Irtiza shares. While looking for alternative employment opportunities, Irtiza had the idea to create a small ‘green’ army with them. “I have grown up in Old Delhi, and I have witnessed the lack of environmental awareness among people. For most, global warming or climate change are alien terms,” he informs.

He knew it would not be easy to start a cleanliness campaign in these Mohallas. In fact, his team members objected at first, seriously doubting its success. “But, somehow we arrived upon an agreement and started our homework over a year ago,” he shares. The team, which included four young working professionals – Irtiza Quraishi, Waqar Ahmed, Anam Hasan and Sadia Syed, trained five of the adopted homeless youth in garbage segregation, waste management, compost making and raising vertical gardens. “We learnt everything from YouTube videos and practised here and there. Finally, three months ago, we launched the drive on ground,” says Irtiza.

Marham Delhi Homeless
The main organisers of the cleanliness drive – Irtiza seen on left

From vertical gardens to street graffiti

So how did Marham manage to clean up the streets which have been lying dirty for decades? Irtiza believes it all starts with bringing a change in everyone’s outlook. In the morning, they roam through these dingy lanes announcing about proper garbage disposal.

“We keep dustbins at every 10 metres, in front of houses and shops. We inform the residents and ask them to put their trash bags in these bins before 10 AM every morning when the municipal garbage collector arrives,” he reveals. Initially, the locals had the notion that putting these dustbins would turn their front yards into a dumpsite. It was a challenge for Marham to convince them.

The two women from the Marham team visits every house and talk to the women, educating them about the ABC of garbage management. To the literate families, they teach dry waste and wet waste segregation and offer two separate dustbins for the same.

“Our trained homeless volunteers pick up the kitchen waste from these homes and head to nearby parks where they make organic compost. This soil is then used to grow vertical gardens on the roadside and along the stained walls of the alleys,” tells Irtiza. “They also paint graffiti on the walls carrying quotes and messages about cleanliness,” he adds.

Marham Delhi Homeless
Graffiti on the shop shutters

Creating employment for the homeless helpers

In Katra Gokulshah and Pahari Imli, the neat lanes beaded with traces of greenery is a welcome surprise for the residents. The word about the initiative has spread across neighbourhoods, so much so that the homeless cleanliness crusaders are receiving orders for vertical gardens from families.

Marham Delhi Homeless
The vertical gardens

“That way, we are also creating employment for them,” shares a proud Irtiza. Interestingly, all the funds for these drives have come majorly from the contributions by the four core team members and some has been raised through social media crowdfunding. In the days to come, Marham aims to give a ‘clean and green’ makeover to more Delhi lanes. “It is a slow change, but a much-needed one,” Irtiza signs off.

Marham Delhi Homeless
Fighting the pan-spitting menace

Also Read: With The Inspiration From This Young Man, Villagers Are Digging Ponds & Canals And Raising Funds All By Themselves

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns

Supporting Education Of COVID Hit Students

19,200 Raised
Out of 20,00,000

Share

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26,651 Raised
Out of 20,00,000

Share

Providing Clothes To Tribal Children

1,11,860 Raised
Out of 9,00,000

Share

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28,631 Raised
Out of 15,00,000

Share

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1,04,887 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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5,87,014 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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3,82,370 Raised
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8,35,618 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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7,582 Raised
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41,094 Raised
Out of 2,50,000

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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

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In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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