Students at Matruchhaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Gujarat were bothered by many problems, ranging from child labour to begging. After discussing their feelings about several such issues, they felt that the one they could pick up and address would involve helping the destitute people who could not afford to buy a roof over their heads and ended up on the footpaths of cities.
Under the guidance of Vaishali H. Shah, while engaging in the ‘Imagine’ stage of the simple 4-step framework of ‘Feel-Imagine-Do-Share’ that has been developed by Design for Change – a not-for-profit organisation that challenges children to solve problems in their community – the students contemplated making small huts, or donating beds and bed-sheets, so that the homeless people could at least sleep comfortably during the long nights.
The girls followed the concept of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. They contemplated making comfortable and cost-effective beds out of waste material like gunny bags, which people use for packing wheat and rice.
The children – Yatri Pathak, Saumya Mehta, Suhani Shah, Kesvi Bhatt, and Vidhi Thacker – collected waste gunny bags and newspaper from their neighbours and waste cloth from the local tailor. They cut and stitched together the gunny bags to make them a usable size, joining two parts to make a bed. They then made strips from the collected newspapers, moistening and then drying them to make them soft like cotton.
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The girls stuffed the gunny bags with these paper strips and waste cloth, also making pillows in the same manner.
The students donated the beds to the needy. The recipients were often left speechless, and shared their happiness that their children could sleep more comfortably. The girls believe that many more people can learn this simple replicable technique. They envision a model where more homeless people can find comfort in their lives, possibly through a weekly initiative to donate beds. Watch the full story here:
The project went on to win the ‘Quick Impact’ award. It was amongst the top 26 stories from 3,600 Stories of Change submitted for the ‘I CAN Awards 2016’. Design for Change organised the awards in India. In light of the glaring fact that, allegedly, there are 78 million homeless people in India – owing to issues like unemployment and disability – this simple, empathetic, and scalable solution to help ease the burden on the homeless, devised by these children, lends much food for thought.
Be a part of one of the largest global movements of children driving change in their communities. Take up the ‘I CAN School Challenge’ in your classroom. Find out more online.