Sturdy, lightweight, colourful and innovative. The differently abled turn paper and cardboard into furniture

A lot happens on a quiet street in Abhiramapuram. Every week day, differently abled young adults transform wastepaper and cardboard into sturdy and usable furniture that look elegant and funky too — thanks to Sahayatha, an innovative rehabilitation effort. These youngsters craft stools that can take a weight of up to 90kg, cute writing tables, cots, desks, containers and baskets. On the anvil is a paper-cardboard cupboard!

Substance and style

“Not often do you get the satisfaction of contributing to a social cause and simultaneously purchasing stuff that is useful and beautiful too,” says Navneeth, who bought a study table for her son.

The social enterprise is the brainchild of young Archana Achutan, who has cerebral palsy. She runs Sampurn, a centre that provides counselling as well as soft skills training workshops to schools, colleges and corporate houses. “I was always drawn to paper art. I happened to read about appropriate paper-based technology (APT) and was fascinated by it,” says Archana.

“I realised APT would be a great way to give jobs to differently abled youngsters.”

APT requires a little bit of guidance and lots of manpower, wastepaper, home-made glue (from maida) and sunlight. It was developed in Zimbabwe by Bevill Packer, using basic engineering principles and in consultation with therapists.

The paper and cardboard sheets are pasted in layers and the panels are sun dried, after which they are assembled to fit into groves cut out in the panels. Hardened paper-layers are glued over to keep the panels from folding over. A coat of waterproofing is added finally. The finished product is an amazingly strong and simultaneously lightweight structure. It can also be made in themes and finishes you fancy — be it abstract wood finishes or ones with lively images. The stools come at Rs. 600. “They can last a lifetime, and our boys will alter the finish if you want a change sometime later,” Archana says.

Sahayatha can be contacted at 98843-61562.


Workshops & EducationMay 14, 2012