by Julie Yerger, Rwanda
As I’ve said before, I like thinking outside the box and being creative. But this project was literally “out of a box” and much more creative than even I could imagine! A physical therapist came from Kigali and taught us how to make cardboard furniture for children with severe physical disabilities. We started with cardboard boxes, newspaper, paper bags, old nylons, flour, and water and turned all this into chairs.
First, we made “boards” by flattening the boxes, laying them out, and gluing the pieces together with homemade flour and water glue. Once the boards dried, we cut out the pieces. We, of course, had to measure the children as these are custom-made chairs for these special needs kids who have difficulty or are unable to sit on their own. We assembled the pieces with more flour and water glue plus ties made out of old nylons. (It’s amazing how strong nylons are!)
Next, we covered the furniture with two layers of newspaper and other paper scraps. We then called the kids back for a fitting to make sure the chairs were right. We made any needed changes, then covered the chairs with brown paper. Once the brown paper was on, we decorated the chairs and gave them a coat or two of varnish to waterproof them.
The idea is to recycle what resources are available in the community without investing money these families don’t have.
One of the cardboard/paper chairs went home with three year old John Claude. Hopefully he’ll love his chair because he’s a smart little guy. His twin has no physical difficulties, but John Claude is still working on sitting and standing.
I enjoyed this project and am amazed at what can be done with recycled things!