DUE to high cost of wood, some women in Nyeri have found other ways of making furniture by using recycled old papers and cartons.A group of women at a local children’s home in Nyeri County are using waste papers to make chairs for their children who are mostly disabled.The local women have joined the children's home to help in making chairs which have become useful in the home.
Metropolitan Sanctuary for Sick Children and Disabled which is at Kamakwa village has now taken the initiative to collect used cartons and old newspapers from various institutions in an effort to conserve the environment.By using the old cartons, they prevent the cutting down of trees. This will also conserve the environment.
The local institutions including hospitals used to burn the cartons because it was a waste but later urged them to give them in order to help in art making of chairs which has been very useful to the children’s home.Within the sanctuary site, they have set up a recycling bin for old cotton rags that can then be pulped.
“Cardboard is another resource that Sanctuary artists have to hand on site, as running along side is the ACE assisted cardboard equipment workshop where a team of women make chairs and standing frames that provide postural support for physically disabled children,”Says Jolene Allen from White Well church in United Kingdom. Allen says the disabled children at the sanctuary are first measured so that the chairs can be designed to fit their needs since each one of them has special need.
“All the paper is made from dead vegetation, either from the crops found on site, to flowers that they grow to harvest. Once the cartons have been collected, the women join several pieces using flour paste and water. Local vegetation such as dried banana leaves and flowers are also used as a finish to give the chairs a fine finish,” said Allen.
Five mothers of the sick children have been trained for the past eight months in the art of paper making, to design and make chairs for their
disabled children.The focus of the training was to change lives one by one financially, psychologically, educationally, having a safe and comfortable working environment, giving childcare, meals, medication and physiotherapy to their children, their lives have been transformed and with the money that they make they are also able to help their extended families.
Unlike in other children's home where most children with disability and poor posture, due weak muscle control, are left to lie on the ground or are carried on their mothers back, this has detrimental effects on the child’s development and leads to deformities and contractures.
“Inevitably, this leads to a diminished quality of life and greater degree of disability. These chairs and frames enable the children to maintain good posture, minimize development of contractures and deformity, and facilitate function and essentially, enhance their quality of life and integration into community life. All the off cuts from cardboard workshop are recycled into the paper,” she adds.
Allen adds that these women have been equipped with assertive paper technology skills and adds that the project has been successful since
nothing is wasted and it’s very positive to the environment. “In the children's home, nothing goes to waste, Sanctuary artists uses only materials that even the cow wouldn’t eat! Paper making is totally at the bottom of the food chain,” she says.
The center which was established in year 2007 specializes in treating children for free where thousands of young people require medical and social intervention in their daily lives. “These children's parents struggle to put food on their tables and find it hard to pay medical bills for their children leave alone buy medicine,” she adds.
Every month the center treats as many as 600 children most of whom are disabled some suffering from acute sickness. Their illnesses include HIV, cerebral palsy, rickets, tuberculosis, developmental delay, common infections and viruses and cases of sexual
An Occupation Therapist at the sanctuary James Mureithi says that the problems of buying chairs and other sitting aids have faced off since they started the paper making project. The project named Assertive Paper Technology has been a boost to the parents who were unable to buy chairs specially designed for disabled children since they are very expensive.
Mureithi says that children have been spending most of their time in bed and could not be able to play or even sit posing another challenge of
deforming their backs. “The children are now are able to sit, eat and write well and get stimulated by the environment once they sit down,” adds the therapist.
The children’s home with over 50 children have made over 30 chairs so far. Parents have also been donating papers to the home which has also led to high demand from the community around. Peninah Mwihaki and Ruth Wangui who are parents depending on services at the sanctuary say that they have learnt from the paper making form of art and they are able to feed and buy medicine for their children.They are grateful that the paper made chairs have been of advantage to the children’s conditions.
Anabell Hulbert who is the Curator at the sanctuary has been involved in a campaign to bring artist from around the world to skill and educate men and women in Kamakwa to use locally available materials which can be recycled into usable products.
The artists are now teaching the locals the art of smelting metals so that they can be able to repair wheelchairs for the children.
As Sanctuary artists develops and grows it is hoped that this will be the case for many more mother and fathers, as well as disabled adults who are denied work in their society.