BARGARH: For many differently-abled persons, the Covid-19 pandemic threw up several challenges. Amid fear of infection, their movement was entirely restricted and the lockdowns and shutdowns took a toll on livelihood. But in the adversity, Sabyasachi Patel, a 29-year-old orthopedically challenged youth of Puintala village in Bargarh, saw an opportunity .
He used the lockdown to acquire a new skill of making handicrafts from coconut shells and is now going to sell his products on e-market place Amazon. Due to an orthopaedic disorder, Sabyasachi was left with crippled legs since childhood and has been unable to walk properly. His disability went up to 55 per cent by the time he grew up.
Although he completed a course in hospitality, his health condition did not allow him to pursue a career in the sector. He returned to his village and began looking for options that allow him to work despite the disability. In 2019, on the suggestion of one of his friends, he tried his hands at poultry farming. Although he could earn money from the vocation, it did not serve his interest as he always had a knack for creativity.
It was only during the lockdown, Sabyasachi wanted to pursue his hobby of making crafts. While searching for craft ideas for one of his niece’s school projects, he saw videos of coconut shell carving on Youtube. He found it fascinating and wanted to learn the craft.
“During my hotel management course, I learned how to carve fruits, vegetables, soaps, jelly and so on. When I saw the videos, I was fascinated to see how artisans from Kerala are upcycling coconut shells into beautiful handicrafts,” he said.
Sabyasachi then collected coconut shells from the temples near his village and started carving them. After rigorous trials for around a month, he learnt how to make cups out of coconut shells. He kept on trying new things and refining them with continuous practice. And four months back, one of his cousins who is a school teacher, bought a set of coconut shell cups from him and showed it to her colleagues. Happy with the biodegradable cups, they began placing orders with Sabyasachi.
He also experimented with making wine glasses from the shells, which also became a hit. The word spread and he started finding many buyers from the nearby areas. In the meantime, through some references, an Amazon Easy store at Balangir approached him and offered to sell his unique products online. Sabyasachi has now learnt to make 15 to 17 varieties of handicrafts with coconut shells. He will soon launch his products on Amazon after they are photographed and documented.
He terms this as an unexpected leap in his life. “I had actually started this as a leisure activity. I never expected it could take me so far. Not only me but my parents are proud of the fact that my handicrafts will be sold on a platform like Amazon”, he said.