As much as education and literacy is promoted and encouraged in the country, most schools in India still lack basic infrastructure and amenities that a lot of us in private schools often took for granted. Even things like desks, chairs and stationery aren’t a given. The bright-eyed children in these schools have the desire to learn but they spend their classes sitting on the floor with hunched-over backs for long period of time which not only leads to some pretty terrible back pain but weak eyesight and bad handwriting as well.
Shobha Murthy’s Aarambh, an NGO started as a Community Service Centre for people from marginalised communities in slums and rural India, wanted to tackle this problem by providing basic facilities for students of these schools. Having identified two key issues afflicting these children--lack of desks and lack of schoolbags--they came up with an eco-friendly, economical and portable solution in the form of Help Desks.
Using discarded cardboard boxes and cartons from various places, such as retail outlets, corporates and homes, they designed a pre-set stencil according to which the carton would be cut and folded, calling the finished products Help Desk. The Help Desk’s double up as both a school bag to carry books and stationary and can be unfolded and refolded into a portable desk for students to work on. Aarambh distributed Help Desks at schools in rural Maharashtra, and the result was a bunch of happy children who were able to study comfortably, making school less of a task and more of an enjoyable and learning experience, and all of this was accomplished at the cost of Rs. 10 per product.
A group of students in Ahmedabad decided to take this project to the schools in Gujarat. Tushar Patel, a student of Computer Engineering, along with the group started making the desks out of recycled cardboard boxes and distributed them to students in need. On the campaign page to raise funds for their endeavour, Patel writes that the lifespan of the desks is approximately five months; they’ll be given to students every six months, taking back the previous desks for recycling. They targeted 500 students for whom they would provide the desks in 3 different schools--two rural schools and one urban.