The custom of cleaning houses before Diwali is well accepted. It leads to the discovery of unused and useless items. People want to give away all the unwanted items. Old clothes, books, and toys top the list. It is a common practice to pass on these items to the domestic help and staff. In other cases, they are distributed to homeless people. I have witnessed the old clothes donation before Diwali in Jaipur a couple of times.
In winters, many people distribute blankets to the homeless and deprived people living on the streets in Jaipur. While some consider it a benevolent act, others contest the benefits of such acts of charity. Why so? Some recipients sell off new blankets for a few bucks and use that money for drugs and alcohol.
Not too long ago, I experienced a brief interaction with an impecunious man on the streets of Jaipur. A group of people distributes free food and tea every morning to the destitute and deprived people living on the streets.
Me: What’s your name?
Me: What do you do?
I work as a laborer assisting Rickshaw pullers, pushing the bulky load when needed.
Me: How much do you earn from such work?
Rs. 20 per trip
Me: How much does that translate per day?
Enough for me to sustain for the day
Me: How much does total to?
Rs 70-80 per day (USD 1)
This is appalling as it is not enough to eat one full meal.
Me: Where do you stay?
Here (pointing to the street pavement)
Suresh has no place to live and has spent all his life on the streets of Jaipur.
Me: Do you possess any other skills? Where else have you worked?
I have worked at a tea shop.
Me: Why don’t you set up up a tea shop? It will be more fruitful.
Before he could answer, one of his friends called him out as the food was being served. He left in a jiffy requesting me to find employment for him. This entire interaction prompted many questions but no answers.
There are substantial homeless people in Jaipur like other cities. Many are daily wage workers and rickshaw pullers, while some are beggars. Many such destitute do drug or are alcohol addicts.
Old Clothes Donation in Jaipur
Following the trend from other cities, some citizens in Jaipur developed spaces across the city where one can place old or unused clothes and the person who needs it can gather it up. The first one to start was called “Neki Ki Deewar” or the wall of kindness in Bajaj Nagar and Malviya Nagar.
Some people from associations placed collection boxes in malls where one could deposit unused clothes, books, and toys. The collection is then distributed to institutions and NGOs working with kids and orphanages. Lamentably, this is not an ongoing activity and is confined to a certain period only.
Some people feel many NGOs and agencies don’t pass on the benefits to the needy people as many NGOs in India were involved in scams. This prompted many Individuals to donate directly to schools and orphanages so they can monitor fund utilization closely. A couple of them do run drives to collect unused clothes. It is true that an agency is not required to donate clothes or do charity. One can directly donate unused clothes to the homeless or needy people.
Should You Donate Old clothes?
It is conventional practice to handover worn-out clothes to domestic help and indigent people in India as it is ingrained in Indian culture. People consider it charity. Is handing out old and tattered clothes an act of charity? Isn’t this disposal?
Some people maintain the opinion that charity implies providing aid and help to poverty-stricken people so any type of charity is good.
Are we merely making ourselves happy by claiming to do charity when in reality we are simply discarding unwanted stuff lying in our house? The opinions are bound to be divided on this issue. What is yours?