We often become ignorant of the feelings of isolation of those whose lives are defined by unpredictability, for whom normalcy is a far fetched dream. Uncertain of their destination, these people live in constant fear and doubt, contemplating if they will ever get to return home and restart their lives. It is the life of a refugee for whom survival means far more than just having enough food to eat.
The gravity of the situation and the pressing need for action compelled our dynamic team at Enactus Kirori Mal College to come together to help Afghan refugees living in Delhi. This motivated the start of Project Patradya. Under this project, our team collaborated with three resilient Afghan women who having fled their homeland amidst war, terrorism and political misery sought refuge in India.
The project aims towards the economic upliftment of these ladies in Bhogal, Delhi by tackling the plastic menace through the production of edible cutlery, a fresh concept unfamiliar to many.
The word Patradya is an amalgamation of two sanskrit words – patra and adya – meaning edible utensils, which is our alternative to plastic in the disposable utensils market.
Plastic forks, knives and spoons may be convenient, but they’re wreaking havoc on our oceans and still continue to dominate our kitchen shelves. In fact, six million tons of non-durable plastics are discarded every year throughout the world. Our baked utensils not only addresses the issue of plastic menace in an effective way but is also a healthier alternative. Reducing the production of plastic by 1 kg prevents nearly 3.5kg of carbon dioxide emission. Since our bowls directly substitute plastic, in just 1 year, we have prevented over 630 kgs of carbon dioxide emissions and saved over 2500 litres of fresh water.
Prepared using basic ingredients like all purpose flour, these bio edible utensils come in a variety of flavours; adding a zing to the dish being served in them. These bowls are available in three main flavours, namely; Plain, Chocolate and Achari. In addition, Patradya witnesses a user-friendly nature and a faster rate of decomposability. Moreover, it has been certified fit for consumption by an NABL accredited food lab. On top of producing the hitherto popular edible bowls, we are also bringing in newer ideas and venturing into edible spoons, glasses and plates.
Through our project, the existing culinary skills of the ladies are utilized in an efficient manner whilst providing them a source of employment in a foreign environment. These women facing socio-cultural barriers were initially not familiar with the nuts and bolts of running a business. Our team provided them with the required assistance by conducting regular tutoring sessions to impart necessary skills, and further involve them in the decision making process.
To ensure growth, sustainability and evolution of our venture, the students single-handedly perform all the major tasks ranging from research and brainstorming to marketing and diversification. They are ardently involved in the designing and implementation of the business model till the target community is ready to manage it on its own.
Besides being well acquainted with the manufacturing process, these ladies have been actively engaged in the marketing and distribution elements of the business; thus, adding to their interpersonal skills and broadening their vision.
Our initiative has not only empowered these indomitable women to embark on their journey of evolving into triumphant entrepreneurs but has also helped them integrate into a new culture. This project, hence, promises a future filled with still greater aspirations abetted with a brand new energy and faith.