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Improving Education Infrastructure for Children in Rural India
Helpdesk is a portable desk and school bag, made out of recycled cardpaper and produced by the unemployed youth in rural Maharashtra, India. Aarambh, an NGO, developed the frugal innovation which costs just Rs15 to manufacture.
Kids in rural India walk miles everyday to reach the nearest school. The parents of these kids are often landless labourers, who barely earn Rs50 for 10 hours of work. School bags, shoes or even uniforms are a distant dreams for these school going kids.
Flimsy, plastic bags function as a school bag. Lack of school bags implies that students miss school in rainy season and many times it is the reason for their dropping off from school. Unfurnished classrooms are a common sight
across rural schools in India. Without seats or chairs, students sit for hours daily on the floor and do their work without the aid of desks. Sitting for long hours without the benefit of a desk and chair can lead to poor posture,
eyesight problems and even bad handwriting.
School bags and desks is an urgent problem to be fixed for these kids, who easily number to 80 million. That is equivalent to the population of Germany.
Aarambh, an NGO which worked on improving education for slum kids, started developing a single solution to make desks and school bags accessible to the rural kids. The initial framework outlining the project were not so simple: (i) is low priced, (ii)
serve as a desk and a school bag (iii) can be assembled by a 7 year old kid and (iv) made from recycled materials.
Helpdesk was the brainchild of Sanuree Gomes, who was volunteering with Aarambh at that time. “Looking back, I think the solution was right in front of our eyes,” says Sanuree Gomes, who served as a art director in DDB Mudra. “We wanted a material that
was not only strong, but flexible and economical. We had just received a shipment at our office, and we had boxes lying all around us.”
Raw materials: Cardpaper sourced from local businesses and recycling centers. Shelf life: 6-8 months Manufacturing cost: Rs. 15 per unit Production Team: 20 youth in Satara district
1. 2 million Helpdesks distributed 2. 1.5 million kids benefitted 3. 200 villages across Maharashtra, India benefitted
The bags are definitely a hit with the students, according to Shobha Murthy, who is the founding member of Aarambh, who says the students “love them” and “take very good care of them.”
Currently, the team is working
on increasing the shelf life of Helpdesks. Aarambh is experimenting with better water proof coating, school bag locks and hip designs.
Aarambh is a non-profit charity organization based and working in Mumbai, India. It started as a Community Service Center for the most marginalized families living in urban slum communities and rural areas. Improving educational
infrastructure frugally via Helpdesk is one its primary focus.
Flutur & Aarambh
Want to fund Aarambh's Helpdesk campaign? You can raise funds without spending any money! Download the Flutur New Tab Chrome Extension and choose Aarambh as your
NGO for the month!
You can also show support by spreading the word! Do check out Aarambh’s work here and follow the other causes that they are fighting for on their
Facebook page. Let’s work towards a better tomorrow together :)