A mission to present one man’s junk as another’s jewels
By Jamil Khan @ The Gulf Today-Sharjah, Nov 03, 2012
SHARJAH: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. And what if the junk comprises a whole host of books, part of students’ curriculum, with each priced at Dhs60 and above in the market.
It will obviously be prized treasure for those who cannot afford to buy such books, more so if there is a chance to get them completely free of cost.
And this is what exactly happened when during the course of a whole month, people from different backgrounds — mostly belonging to low-income groups — rushed in droves to a certain warehouse in Ajman. The reason for the crowds was Faisal Khan, founder of a unique initiative — “Take My Junk” — who had set up tables outside this warehouse and had placed hundreds of books — free to be had by the public.
“This was the first time we had tried it out and the overwhelming response has encouraged us to repeat the exercise during next year’s summer vacations,” he said, in an exclusive interview to The Gulf Today last week.
This reporter had then found him in his warehouse, where he was extremely busy sorting out various issues related to used items his staff had picked up from various parts of the country. The stuff was either donated by residents wishing to replace what they had rejected with new stuff or that which had been sold out by expatriates leaving the country for good.
Faisal Khan had set up the “Take My Junk-UAE,” a private company in Ajman over 4 years ago, with a view to reducing waste by disposing of one man’s junk as treasure to another.
During the last couple of years, Khan, with the help of his army of 50 workers and fleet of over a dozen pick-up vehicles, had collected and later distributed hundreds of household items among dozens of labour camps throughout the UAE. The beneficiaries received things like towels, hygiene products, clothes, shoes and other utility items.
According to Faisal, they have been collecting household items — from furniture to crockery — and any stuff from villas and apartments, which is then sold at the Ajman warehouse. Many of the items, which are received as donations, are distributed among labourers residing in camps in various emirates.
“As part of our household items collection from people in different parts of Dubai, Ajman and Sharjah, the ‘junk’ we receive also includes used books, ranging from school and college textbooks, fiction, travel guides, journals and magazines. A well-wisher once brought my attention to the value these textbooks had, as many parents had been visiting our warehouse to find out whether we stocked used textbooks, more so as many of them come from sections of the public that can’t afford such books, each of which cost upwards of Dhs60 — some fetching as much as Dhs120.
“We know there are many families who are unable to afford such costly books and visit these warehouses to explore a cheaper source. Ahead of the summer, we had enough books — hundreds of them on a host of subjects like Science, Maths, English, Urdu and other subjects, which we placed outside our warehouse. People who need them, particularly students, came and picked up whatever they found useful – absolutely free,” Khan said.
The books also include a large number and variety of books other than academic books. Therefore, those who wish to buy a novel or any other book come to our warehouse, where we are ready to sell books of choice for as low as Dhs2, regardless of its title or condition.
“We do not buy books separately, but in the process of picking up household items — we also receive books of all types. Many people find our stock of used books very useful, especially the fiction titles and travel guides, which they can buy at throwaway prices,” he said.
He further pointed out that they have been giving away many household items, including furniture, especially those they get in bulk.
“We place such extra items outside our warehouse, and there are people who visit daily to pick up and take away whatever they need,” he added.
Khan mentioned that among people who visit his warehouse on the lookout for books are drivers who come hunting for their kids’ favourite books, which are then duly despatched back home.
“My child will learn from these books; one day he will became a doctor,” a truck driver told Faisal Khan, when asked why he was picking up so many different books.