CHENNAI: On a sunny Monday morning, seated under the shadowy stretch of a shamiana were hoards of girls and boys, who were busy modelling, cutting and painting. These school students, as young as 12 and 13, were learning how to make art and crafts from waste material, by reusing non bio-degradables like plastic. The group of uniform-clad children had earlier sat rapt in attention watching their instructors turn plastic bottles into pretty pen stands and vases.
The programme was conceived by Inklink, an NGO that initially provided training for underprivileged women in the tsunami resettlement area of Kannagi Nagar, Thoraipakkam.
“Activities like these will help these children get into something productive and keep them busy in the summer, so we are all for it,” said Baskaran, additional headmaster of the Government School, Kannagi Nagar, where the programme is being held through the week for over 500 kids of different age-groups.
The kids, split into groups, spent the morning session mimicking their teachers — women volunteers who were trained by Inklink. Kaustav Sengupta and Shaswati Sengupta, who run the NGO, fish out goodies made by the kids from a bag, funky figurines, bright floral hair clips and chunky jewellery. “These were made from waste polythene covers,” explains Kaustav, much to our surprise. “Though these kids aren’t used to a lot of hands-on craft, the organisation wants to create opportunities to give them exposure.”
Shaswati explains that students were taught the ill-effects of plastics on the environment. They were shown an informative movie before being asked to collect different kinds of plastics from their own locality to reuse them. This resulted in artwork made from coloured bottles, polythene and containers of different colours — the raw materials were tweaked, chopped, twisted and painted into everything from earrings to a hand fan and even a flower pot.
Anandi, a teacher with disabilities, sat gathering the materials – paint brushes, palettes, and bits of plastic, asking the kids to come closer and watch. They didn’t have to be told twice. Sticking glitter and ‘chamkis’ on the plastic body of a juice bottle, they followed her steps, competing for the paints.
“We learnt how to make these and now it feels nice to teach the kids the same thing. It is nice recreation for us,” says Anandi, who is unemployed and was excited to be heading a group of young learners for a change.