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ATHULYA - Wealth From Waste
|by Shernaz Wadia|
Heads bent, hands dexterously working, they are seated in groups at separate tables. Painted in large black letters on a beam is their guiding motto - We can and we will.
And they are a success story! These thirty-five differently-abled young people just like the rest in the other units of Srishti. It started off in 1991 as an envelope making unit with just twelve employees. Today it has expanded to its present form with thirty-five workers. These one-time dependents are now trained, self-sufficient individuals of the hand-made paper unit. In producing wealth from waste, they themselves have become invaluable assets to their families.
It is astounding what beautiful paper can be produced using waste such as banana fiber, leaves of eucalyptus, pineapple, carrots etc., tea waste, onion peel, flower petals, lemon grass, water hyacinth and even elephant droppings!! The enthusiastic young workers with special needs routinely create a whole range of eco-friendly, azo-free and bio-degradable innovative products. Collapsible waste paper boxes, gift boxes in various sizes with attractively colored and designed paper, folders bound handsomely in cloth covers, sets of letter papers with envelopes to match, book marks, photo frames, gift bags and wine bottle bags, napkin holders, greeting and visiting cards, office table sets and various other meticulously handcrafted goods. Paper made from processed elephant droppings is a huge attraction and is in demand.
Another very useful merchandise of theirs is paper made from eucalyptus leaves and lemon grass. Available in rolls of six sheets each, they are good insect repellents and can be used for lining kitchen and book shelves.
The young workers are introduced to new methods and products through workshops. Experts like Mr. Shiyo from Japan, Mr. Anupam Chakravarty, who owns a handmade paper unit in Calcutta and specializes in banana fibre paper have shared their knowledge with Athulya. Ms. Geeta Patil had shown how the finished products could be made more eye-catching by giving them a few special touches.
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