Originally published here.
“In India, out of 12 million tons of paper used, less than 25% finds its way to recycle mills. The majority is directly dumped in landfills and lost forever”.
Writing this at the back of a sheet while reading more about SIFE, SSCBS and Project Akshar makes you wonder why you aren’t involved in the program yet and why no one else thought of it sooner.
SIFE is an international non-profit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to work for their communities and at the same time teach them to become socially responsible business leaders. It has been operational in India since 2003 and has 1,242 students from all across the country working under it.
SIFE S.S.C.B.S has been functioning for over 2 years now with the threefold objective of economic, social and environmental betterment. ‘Sanitation solutions’, their first project aims at ensuring the use of hygienic sanitary napkins by women in slums across Delhi. It provides them a sustained means of livelihood and better standard of living at the same time. The project is now spread over 5 slums and targets 20,000 slum women- decreasing their chances of afflictions like cervical cancer and infertility, while at the same time increasing their household incomes by 20% and thus their standard of living. But ‘Project Akshar’, their second project goes even further and seems to promise even more in terms of impact and empowerment in society then the first one did and that’s saying something.
The simple yet effective project works through collaboration between SIFE SSCBS and the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women (DFDW). It works at creating an entrepreneurial model for a community of economically backward deaf women who then manufacture low cost, eco friendly, one sided paper notebooks. These notebooks are made of waste paper that is often thrown out without being fully utilized. All of us that have written assignments, made projects, and created paper presentations know what underutilized waste paper is being talked about. Ever wonder how much of the 75% paper that is destroyed without being reused is yours?! These notebooks are then made available at low costs to rural children thus contributing indirectly to their education. Over 50% of the hearing impaired people in India are unemployed and dependent on others for survival; this project is empowering through business to many hearing impaired women and aims to provide them with economic self-sufficiency. The women currently earning meager amounts such as Rs. 300 per month will be able to earn at least 5 times that amount through project Akshar.
Reuse. Create. Empower. Sensitize.
Reuse, create and empower- The three things which a group of 39 students from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies might be able manage on their own. It’s the ‘Sensitize’ part where the rest of us need to step in. Without schools, colleges, corporate organizations and the general public taking any if not active interest in the project, half the purpose of any social outreach project is lost.
The newest Chapter – ‘The Project Akshar College Leaders Program’ aims at involving other students from colleges across the NCR to actively participate in the program and work towards the changes in society that project Akshar strives to make. Each college shall have a team which besides organizing ‘Akshar Week’, maintains waste paper collection boxes and interacts with the women producers at the DFDW and the Business advisory board (Corporate mentor) members. “A head for business, a heart for the world” the first line that you see on the SIFE website seems to make so much more sense after knowing about the entire program and the way its carried out. The last date for applications by all interested in the project is 12th April.
For more information about SIFE S.S.C.B.S., Sanitation Solutions and Project Akshar, visit the website – http://sifecbs.org/ .