Starting this March, Bucharesters can donate clothes to the disadvantaged, by placing them in the container in front of the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Czech Centre in Bucharest. These institutions, who had the initiative of placing the container, have collaborated with a series of NGOs to collect clothes and footwear, for humanitarian purposes. Similar containers have already been placed in over 90 towns and cities across Romania, but that in front of the Czech Embassy is the first placed in Bucharest. Iulia Ţurcanu, event coordinator at the Czech Centre, has told us how surprised she was by people’s reaction, the more so as they embraced the idea immediately. Iulia Ţurcanu.
“It was something unexpected to us, too, because we have to empty the container every day, and not once a week, as we initially thought. Also, many clothes are donated at the weekend. This is proof of the fact that such actions were needed in Bucharest and that people are willing to donate and don’t want to throw away the clothes they no longer need. We found out that such containers had already been placed in several cities, after doing some research to find out how we could get a container. We had the idea in the autumn of 2015, when we collected clothes at the Czech Centre for the refugees on the Serbian border and took them there. People donated huge amounts of clothes and answered our call in large numbers. So we thought we would need space to collect clothes all year round and tried to find out what could be done. It was then that we discovered that Bucharest didn’t have something similar. Apart from clothes collection actions carried out on specific days and in specific places, there is no other place where you can go, all year round, to leave clothes, just like in Prague and other western cities. Apart from containers for plastic or paper recycling, there are containers for clothes
The clothes donated by people and left in the container before the Czech Embassy are then taken over by local NGOs, which distribute them to disadvantaged people, both in Romania and abroad. Thus, the organisers want to react and respond to such situations, in which humanitarian aid is needed, to help groups of disadvantaged people, who are in permanent need. One of the NGOs that got involved in the action initiated by the Czech Centre is Samusocial (The Mobile Aid and Emergency Service) which provides support to desocialised people. Monica Tautul with the Samusocial Service has further details:
“The Czech Centre team has brought the collected clothes to our headquarters, and we managed to distribute the donations over a short period of time, to both mothers who needed clothes for their children, and to grown ups, who are alone and who are in dire need of clothes. Another part of the donations made at the Czech Centre have been distributed in the street, the beneficiaries being people whom the Samusocial mobile team met in the streets of Bucharest. Also, the homeless and the families with children who come to our centre will also receive clothes, but as I’ve just said, most of them will be distributed in the street. Throughout the year, the Samusocial Association is carrying out various clothes collecting campaigns, and to that end, we use various communication channels, as well as our website and Facebook page, to announce details on our program. Thus, those who have the possibility of making such donations can bring them over, to our headquarters. I noticed that people have become increasingly aware of and responsive to such actions and are more willing to help others
Iulia Ţurcanu has also underlined the Bucharesters’ availability to help others:
”Actually, the results have exceeded our expectations. We are a very small team at the Czech Centre, and I can honestly say it is not very easy for us to manage the clothes container issue right now. That is why we want to attract and involve in the project as many NGOs as possible, to help us distribute the clothes as soon as possible, because we don’t have enough storage space. So, I can say we have been pleasantly surprised by the incredibly high number of people answering our call and donating clothes. The container remains in front of the Czech Centre and it will stay there as long as people continue to bring in clothes. We hope to inspire as many people as possible through our actions and other initiatives of this type, because such projects are truly necessary
(Translated by D. Vijeu)