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Our Old Their New

With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat in unwomanly rags,

Plying her needle and thread—

Stitch! stitch! stitch!

In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch She sang the Song of the Shirt.

- Excerpt from “Song of the shirt” by Thomas Hood

Our clothes have been a part of our life since time immemorial. They have evolved with us, adapted to the changing times and protected us the whole time. They are a testament to our evolution from using rag skins to fine silks. Their importance has always been undermined by us, we rarely acknowledge them and take them for granted. But not everyone has access to it, millions of people around the world are suffering through harsh weather conditions without proper clothing. These clothes have protected us from rains and thunders, from diseases and harmful radiations, they have given us dignity and protected us. This generation judges people by the quality of their clothes, but what about the people who do not have access to them at all? Who lives off hand me downs which are of very poor quality and does not protect them?

One in eight children around the world do not have access to proper clothes to keep them warm, The number of people living in slums has doubled over the past decade. People under poverty are not able to find food or shelter, clothing is not one of the basic needs for them. These children are forced to miss schools due to harsh winters and most of them do not have a proper roof over their head at all. The number of homeless people around the world is at an all time high and the situation has been exacerbated due to the pandemic. The winters are fast approaching in our country, but for these people the situation is far worse than we can imagine.

It is estimated that about 2% of the world’s population are homeless and over 20% lack adequate facilities. We can assume here that these people do not have access to proper clothing as well due to their dire financial situation. The governments are unable to address these issues due to lack of funding and are currently focused on controlling the pandemic. The harsh winters, especially in Northern India is a curse for these people who struggle to find temporary shelters to stay alive. The situation gets worse at night and lack of warm blankets can prove to be fatal for them. Despite numerous policies enacted by the government to address the issue of homelessness, there is no reprieve for these people. It is estimated that 1.77 million people in India are homeless and live without proper facilities of pavements, footpaths, pipes and open spaces. This number should be a wake up call for our government to take proactive measures, but alas they seem to be ignoring it. Lack of clothes also strips them away of their dignity as they are forced to beg to satisfy their basic needs. More than 90 million people in the country live below the poverty line and find it difficult to fulfill their basic needs such as food and shelter, proper clothing is accessible to them only when donated by charities and NGOs. We as a community should address this issue by donating unused clothes to the needy who can use it to stay safe. Organising cloth donation drives and sponsoring blankets to these people will go a long way in helping them to live their lives, despite innumerable hardships.

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