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Delhi: All Profits From This Zero-Waste Book Shop Support Over 1000 Underprivileged Kids

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How often do you harbour the desire to get your hands on the first edition of some rare book that you have been longing to read for years? Popular e-commerce websites with their sizable discounts on crisp new bestsellers, fail to match up to the joy of chancing upon an old book and getting immersed in the scent of nostalgia. Now imagine, a bookshop which offers you pre-owned books with their coffee-coloured pages, at unbelievably low prices – sounds like a dreamland, doesn’t it? But, there’s more. Imagine all the money you spent in there, bagging book after book, is going to support over 1000 underprivileged kids.

Sisters of The People
The bookshop lies in a quaint little corner near Moolchand Metro Station in Delhi

Yes, a bookshop in Delhi has made all of this a reality. Sisters of The People, a charity bookshop near Lajpat Bhawan, houses an incredible collection of pre-loved books and all their sales proceeds are directed to sustain 18 balwadis (pre-schools) in the city. Old books, which would otherwise have ended up in the trash, are making way into new bookshelves, thereby ensuring a zero-waste concept.

Sisters of The People
Children at a balwadi supported by Sisters of The People

Come once, come again and again…

Sisters of The People is an offshoot of the well-known NGO Servants of The People Society, established in 1921 by Lala Lajpat Rai. The charity bookshop has been there for over sixteen years, lurking in a quaint corner, hidden from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. Stacks of pre-loved books line up the overflowing shelves in the room, all of which have been voluntarily donated by the owners. “Started in 2002 by late Mrs Satyanand, the bookshop has expanded its collection and visitors gradually. Though we operate only four days a week, footfalls are consistently increasing. I can assure you that someone who drops by our shop once, will keep coming back again and again,” asserts Astha, an enthusiastic volunteer who overlooks the marketing operations at the shop.

Sisters of The People
The entrance to the dreamland

All these years, they have kept themselves from venturing much into the commercial arena, to preserve their primary aim – helping the children. So, most of their popularity has spruced from word of mouth, so much so that now they are receiving orders from all over India and delivering bulky packages to cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Pune, Chennai etc. “We also have an Instagram page now, where book lovers can get glimpses of this little heaven,” she shares with Efforts For Good


Flowering a thousand smiles

This is the part where the story grows more interesting. “All our profits are channelised entirely to 18 balwadis, housing around thousand children, between 3 to 6 years of age. The revenue from the bookshop funds the educational expenses for these youngsters, including their books, stationeries, uniforms, food, medical care and decent salaries for the teachers,” reveals Manisha from Sisters of The People. “We are preparing these children for getting admission to good schools,” she adds. They also conduct lots of workshops, festivals and activity-based programmes for these children.

The untrammelled smiles of thousand little faces bring the entire initiative to a full circle.

Sisters of The People
Changing thousands of little lives

Discounts that dissolve distances

Curating versatile genres of books is an arduous task in itself, yet all the volunteers admit to finding themselves rejuvenated in the company of antique books that have withstood the test of time. “Alongside the social work, we are also reviving the habit of reading, which is waning among the youngsters in the surge of digital wave,” declares Manisha.

Sisters of The People
Some of the volunteers at the bookshop

Readers who are relocating to other parts of the world, or simply anyone willing to share his or her prized collection with the community, drop in to donate their books at the shop. Price tags are attached then, guaranteeing at least a 50% discount on the printed MRP.

The jovial keepers of the zero-waste bookshop shares snippets of memories that keep them imbibed with motivation. “We have a buyer from Pune. Almost every month we are sending hefty packages to her. She expressed her sheer joy of finally finding a medium that is joining the two causes closest to her heart – reading and helping others,” narrates Astha. 


Recycling to rebuild a beautiful society

Upholding the awareness about recycling and zero-waste lifestyle, Sisters of The People also run a thrift shop where pre-owned artefacts, handicrafts, paintings, furniture and even clothes are sold at reasonably low prices. The Masala Centre is another wonderful project by the organisation, which markets savoury spices, hand-ground by women from low-income families. This venture generates a steady source of income for these women, who were otherwise deprived of any employment opportunities.

Sisters of The People
Rejuvenating the habit of reading

The collective funds from all these shops support not only the balwadis, but also a school for differently-abled children as well as an old age home in Dwarka.

It is a rare circumstance that a bookshop is exclusively dedicated to selling the old and the gold. It is even rarer, perhaps a once in a blue moon situation, where such a shop is devoted entirely towards charity for the children. Sisters of The People is indeed a dream throbbing alive at the heart of Delhi, catering to multiple social causes at the same time. Efforts For Good applauds this unique initiative and sincerely hopes that more people discover magic on their shelves.


Also Read: Village Schools In Madhya Pradesh Get 100 Digital Classrooms, Thanks To This Organisation

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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.
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2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

96,21,319 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

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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:

  • 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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