September 29, 2007

Kovai's Mega Jumble Sale

15,000 visitors. 800 volunteers. 12 lorryloads of goods. A month-long campaign.
All this goes to make a Jumble Sale which goes on to raise about eighteen lakh rupees.
It took place last weekend. And it took place in Coimbatore.
And in many ways it is a unique event. For it networks people for a cause - treating the poorest of the poor cancer patients and creating awareness on prevention and cure.

For 14 years now, the Vasantha Memorial Trust founded in Coimbatore by Dr. J. Ramanathan and his sister, have promoted a string of creative projects to drive the goals of their Trust.
Many years ago, I met up with this genial doc when he got Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri to cut an album and present a series of kutcheris to raise funds.
Since then, Ramanathan has kept in touch, keeping me informed of all his projects in Coimbatore and in Mumbai.

A little over a year ago, he set up the Trust's office in our city. It didn't matter to him that he would now have to practise at a Coimbatore hospital on the weekend and do the same through the week in Chennai and also make time to manage the events of the Vasantha Trust.
When Ramanathan began to promote the annual Jumble Sale this year, I was more than curious about this venture.
Jumble Sales don't seem to be common and attractive in our parts.

I recall a series which a women's group used to organise in the Adyar neighbourhood.
This group was a small one but its members used to knock on many doors and manage to collect a few items - light furniture, kitchen appliances, clothes, bags and the like.
And these women would hold the sale on their premises.
The sale attracted the women who worked as maids, cooks or helpers in and around the neighbourhood. For, the goods on sale were a bonus for families which were economically weak.

The Vasantha Memorial Trust Jumble Sale in Coimbatore is an event by itself.
Dr. Ramanathan tells me that there were twelve lorryloads of furniture alone and little of it was left by 2 pm!
People begin to queue up for this sale from 7 am though the gates of the school where it is held are opened only at 9 am. The prices are a steal and decided by the organisers and there are no bargains.

Last weekend's sale earned close to eight lakh rupees.
Doc Ramanathan says it is not the collection which counts; rather it is the involvement of and contribution made by people which is important.

This year, though the Jumble Sale campaign was low key in our city, the Trust managed to collect two lorryloads of articles. One donor was even willing to offer a used car.
Yet another example of the impact communities can help create when people contribute, voluntarily.


Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

A wonderful concept. Ingenious thinking for a person who thought it up. I think most of us Indians like to hunt for goods in such places, including me, and surely, such sales benifit people. I hope they do it in Bangalore too.

Ck said...

Thanks to google for fishing out this article for me.
Year after year, it is a thrill being a volunteer for VMT Jumble sale.
Happy to see this artcle after a strenous Jumble sale'08 yesterday.