Lap pals In May I was contacted by Puja Mitra from Terra Conscious (www.terraconscious.com).
Terra Conscious is a small social enterprise promoting responsible marine and coastal tourism. They describe their work as
"We are a conservation oriented social enterprise promoting responsible marine and coastal tourism. We conduct ethical & sustainable wildlife and nature experiences, to build awareness about focal species and follow international guidelines for wildlife watching. We also work with local communities, tour operators and institutions to understand wildlife conservation challenges and build their capacity to be sustainable tourism practitioners."
Puja told me about a supporter (Niranjan Khatri) who wanted to help children by donating 'Lap Pals'. I wasn’t quite sure what Lap Pals were so she explained that they are re-constituted hardened cardboard with a honey comb centre made into a folding platform that serves as a small writing surface.
As the name suggests, the idea is that children can use this on their laps. Most of the children we help don't have tables to study at so they sit on the floor cross legged and bend over to write on the floor. Often the floor is also uneven making it hard to write easily. Lap pals are a great help and bring the work surface closer, reducing the need to lean over, while providing a strong flat and smooth surface to work on.
As well as providing the children with a good writing surface, Lap Pals are created by using recycled paper with very little embodied energy and can be made anywhere in the country as a Cottage Industry/MSME product, in the aim to create jobs and provide an income to low income families. Quite often women work in this industry giving them employment, creating a unique product which will help more under privileged children.
After our initial contact, Puja visited our centre during May, to get an idea of the work we do, and the children we help. It was great to put a face to the name and Puja met a few of the children we help.
The Lap Pals were scheduled to arrive in middle of June. We still weren't 100% sure what they would look like. On the 17th June they arrived and were a little bigger than expected; in total there were 4 large parcels (1m x 1m each)!
One parcel was opened and finally we were able to see what a 'Lap Pal' was. The Lap Pals are really strong but as it was the monsoon here in Goa we were unsure if it was the best time to distribute them as the damp conditions and humidity might shorten their lifespan. We made an executive decision to hold off and distribute them after the monsoon, hopefully in mid to late September.
We had organised to donate the Lap Pals to the children of one our local govt schools where around 25 of our children attend. All the children at the school know Robert and as he and Yallama arrived, Robert was 'mobbed' by the children who were on their morning break. After saying hi and shaking around 50 small hands they managed to get off the bike and head in to see the headmaster.
We described the Lap Pals and showed the headmaster the samples we brought. He was happy for the kids to receive them, so it was planned to give them on the same day. Robert ferried the lappals from the centre to the school (one packet at a time on his bike), then returned with Yallama at 11:30 to distribute them to the children.
We started with first standard and worked away through each class of children and gave out all but one of the Lap Pals which was just right. We were glad that all the children received one and the remaining one will be kept as a souvenir.
The day was great and we would like to thank the headmaster and teachers for their help; thank you also to Yallama who gave out most of the Lap Pals on the day.
It might have taken a few months to complete but we are so happy that this donation found a good home and can be put to good use by the children.
Finally a huge thank you to Puja and Niranjan for sourcing and providing the lap pals.