Published: 26th December 2018
These IIT-M students made over 400 desks for Govt school kids reusing discarded cardboard
The students at IIT-Madras have already distributed desks to seven government schools in the city and they have plans for expansion of the initiative
Students from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) collected discarded and used cardboard boxes from stores and small shops around the city and created desks out of them for over 400 children studying at Government schools.
As a part of IIT Madras' technical festival called Shaastra, the social initiative called REACH - Reuse cardboard to help children is aimed at improving the conditions and infrastructure in rural schools in an eco-friendly manner.
"Social initiatives such as REACH has been a part of Shaastra since 2016. We think this is our way of giving back to society. During last year's initiative when we went to government schools to provide them with liquid handwash, we saw students sitting on the floors with hunched backs and without desks. That's how we got the idea of REACH," says Sabyasachi Mishra, one of the Heads of the REACH initiative.
They have already distributed desks to seven government schools in Chennai. "With Teach for India's help, we have been able to reach underprivileged children in seven rural schools already and have provided them with desks," adds Sabyasachi.
The desks have been designed in a way to make them children-friendly so that they can keep their books on them and read. The edges have also been smoothened with tapes so that they don't hurt themselves.
As a part of the campaign we reached out to celebrities so that we can reach out to more people through them. Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, former Indian cricketer Anil Kumble, and first Indian to travel to space Rakesh Sharma endorsed our project, and have shown immense support
Sabyasachi Mishra, Head, REACH initiative (Pic: Reach)
"Our first pilot run was in October this year when we started distributing the desks after the idea had been finalised in August," explains Sabyasachi.
Currently, the students who are a part of the REACH initiative are not that big a team, so they have plans to collaborate with more NGOs so they can expand this idea, create awareness about lack of infrastructure in Government schools and help more children.
"We have a team of seven coordinators who work on ground and ideate stuff, two more who lead them and two heads," adds Sabyasachi.
Towards an eco-friendly future: REACH has already distributed desks to seven government schools in Chennai (Pic: Reach)
Started in 2016, the several social initiatives under Shaastra have been quite impactful. Their first campaign was called Pledge a Book, where they collected extra, unused books to set up libraries in the underprivileged sections of the society like slums, rural areas. They had also expanded this initiative to five more cities as well starting from Chennai.
In 2017, they initiated a campaign called Synk, where they reused plastic bottles to make bricks in order to make toilets at schools in rural areas. "We had made a prototype also on our campus for the same and are planning to approach the concerned organisations for that," concludes Sabyasachi.