Vocational Training – Tetrabags

Packing a punch:Some of the tetra pack products on display at the Satya Special School in Puducherry.

Where ‘upcycling’ shows special children at their best

Training workshop conducted by Satya Special School for children with disabilities

Browse through Pinterest and Etsy online and it is easy to see why ‘upcycling’ is the buzzword among creative entrepreneurs. And for the town that is proud of its ‘handicraft’ heritage, here’s a bunch of special people who will make you think twice before throwing away a tetra pack carton next time.


In a 15-day training workshop conducted by Satya Special School, persons with disabilities were taught to upcycle tetra pak cartons into bags, pouches, placemats and a variety of utility products. The workshop was led by Edwina Stanley from Bangalore and conducted in small groups headed by mothers.

The NGO wants to set up 10 small units headed by mothers in several neighbourhoods in Puducherry this year. Each unit will be designated one product.

“There are around 30,000 people in Puducherry who have some kind of disability. All of them need employment. Corporate organisations are hesitant to employ people with multiple disabilities. This kind of initiative helps them earn a living,” says Chitra Shah, director, Satya Special School.

“While upcycling is yet to really take off in India, the sky is the limit. Every product we have made is of utility, not decorative,” says Ms. Stanley.

“While it is labour-intensive, it suits people who have multiple disabilities and have constraints travelling to work. The investment is low as well,” Ms. Shah says, adding it helps bring self-confidence and self-esteem which are often lacking in PWDs. “This is fun and it is also therapy,” she says.

These products also address environmental concerns as tetra pak cartons are not bio-degradable. In many places, they are collected for recycling. “We want to address companies who want to be seen as eco-conscious and are interested in social responsibility,” says Ms. Shah. The products can be customised too, she adds.


Some boutiques in Puducherry have already shown interest in displaying the products, says Ms. Shah. The NGO has approached Pondicherry University, Auroville Eco Service and a few college canteens for collection of cartons and is hoping more companies and institutions will help their cause.

Maheshwari, 20, with severe disabilities is among those who will benefit. An orphan, her sister and she depend on an uncle for their sustenance. “I want to make and sell these bags,” she says with a wide grin.

By Annie Philip

Satya Special Scool, Bangalore


In order to bridge the gap between existing vocational training facilities in Pondicherry and the demand for such activities, Satya has launched various vocational training activities since its inception.The primary purpose of vocational training programme is to prepare individuals especially the adult disabled in the age group of 15-25 years for the world of work and make them employable for a broad group of occupations.

The main vocational training programs comprises of Carpentry, Jewellery making, products with dried flowers and leaves, mat weaving, Tailoring, Paper cup making, Tetrabag making.

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