For Past 9 Years, Speech-Impaired Kolkata Man Picks Up Discarded National Flags After Independence Day

Image & Story Credits: Arighna Mitra/Newzpole

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His speech difficulties have always been a hindrance for him to lead a ‘normal’ lifestyle. The insensitive mockery of neighbours or schoolmates haunted him throughout his childhood and youth, but he sailed through it all silence. And now at 32, Priyaranjan Sarkar from Bali, West Bengal is ridiculed for his strange hobby – collecting national flags which are dumped here and there post Independence and Republic Day celebrations. 

Love for his country runs in his very veins. It pained him deeply to see the flag being hailed one day and carelessly dumped or trampled upon the next. So, for the past nine years, Priyaranjan has been spotted roaming the streets after Independence Day or Republic Day, collecting flags from sidewalks, main roads, dump yards and even from the gutters, reported Bengali magazine Newzpole

People Called Him A Madman

Priyaranjan Sarkar shared how people called him a ‘madman’ and ‘ragpicker’ when he would go out to collect the discarded flags. There had been instances where he was even harassed in the suspicion of being a thief. Despite his speech problems, he had made sure every time to make people understand the importance of what he is doing and urged them to show proper respect to the national flag.

In his opinion, the real ‘madmen’ are the hypocrites who salute the national flag one day and do not mind throwing it in the trash the next day. 

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families, 75000+ meals served, 150+ ration kits and sanitary pads distributed

A Childhood Full Of Hardships

He credits his mother for his intense love for the nation. He lost his father as a little three-year-old child. His mother underwent a lot of hardships to provide for her four sons. Getting Priyaranjan admitted to school was quite a hassle, as no school was willing to admit a student with speech difficulties. Surgery could have cured his condition, but his mother failed to afford the expense despite relentless hard work.

At his school, he was a regular victim of taunts and teases from his classmates for his speech impairment. Battling through the bullying, Priyaranjan established himself as a professional football player with his local athletic club.

National Flag Is The ‘Saree’ Of Mother India

As a child, one day he found his mother picking up a discarded flag from the roadside with great care. When he inquired, she beautifully explained to him the significance of the national flag. She described the flag as the ‘saree’ worn by Mother India and advised him to pick up the flag if he ever finds it lying carelessly on the street.

Later in his youth, he was deeply inspired by the Indian Army’s devotion towards the national flag. He felt that if our soldiers can make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to preserve the respect of our flag, then why the common citizens cannot do even the slightest bit of that.

He Now Has A Team Of Volunteers

Throughout his growing years, Priyaranjan has always collected flags, whenever he found one lying in dust and dirt. Exasperated by the apathy of the citizens, he has taken up the onus to keep the streets and dumpsters of Bali free from the disrespectfully discarded flags. He maintains a huge trunk at his house where he keeps all the flags he has collected till date.

He started alone but now he has gained a dedicated team of volunteers who assist him in his flag collection drives on the days following January 26 or August 15 every year. They do not mind picking up flags stained with pan spit or shoe prints.

Do Not Disrespect The Flag 

Priyaranjan’s true nationalism and immaculate ideologies prevent him from aligning with any political party. He also despises religious discrimination in the name of ultra-nationalism. In an appeal to the masses, he keenly insists everyone to immediately stop disrespecting the national flag in the pretext of celebrating our independence.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

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

Image & Story Credits: Arighna Mitra/Newzpole

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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.
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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families, 75000+ meals served, 150+ ration kits and sanitary pads distributed

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:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

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
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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