It is Tuesday afternoon and the hall is packed. Volunteers mill about as mixed whispers of Hindi and English words fly about in the air. Anshu Gupta, his name now synonymous with the NGO Goonj, which he helped found and won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2015 for, is flitting about from group to group smiling and chatting. Media persons want interviews with him, while some attendees want selfies with him. A quick pre-show chai and snacks session follows, after which people shuffle into a low-lit auditorium.
It is the launch day of volume 1 of ‘100 Stories of Change’ at Triveni Kala Sangam in New Delhi. The book series is an in-house Goonj effort at highlighting the people who have inspired Goonj’s journey in its close to two decades of existence. The event features short discussions with and talks by some of these people mentioned in the books, even as Anshu rounds up their stories to explain how individual action has led to community-wide changes.
RJ Shruti Sharada caught up with Anshu post-launch to talk about the ideas and approaches that have defined the organisation’s stellar work in the past 19 years. The team, actually, is celebrating this ’19th Birthday’ with a series of events in 8 different cities.
In this conversation, Anshu mentions that the book is a “report” of the work the team does and not a treatise bragging about the organisation’s greatness. “The fact that so many people turned up for the launch of this book on a working day is humbling,” he begins.
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(SoundCloud image courtesy: www.facebook.com/goonj.org/)
Written by Shruti Sharada.