16 July 2017

Chain of Women Upcyclers

Chain of Women Upcyclers

What is the significance of a human chain? 

It is like an interconnected body with a common purpose.

You might have experienced being in one or might have heard about events where hundreds or even thousands of people came together to provide strength, protection or support for a united cause.

ACT envisions a chain of empowered rural women who are connected to each other and support each other socially, economically and environmentally. Building a sustainable strong chain of women change makers will help develop an environment conscious society. The proverb goes “If you educate a man you educate an individual but when you educate a woman you educate a community because the woman in her multiple roles ensures that the value of her education is spread and implemented around her world.
Hence building an empowered women chain is an upward graph in the development of our country.
Chain of Women Upcyclers
What does ACT achieve by creating this chain of rural women? Why are they called upcyclers? 

The purpose is dual. ACT empowers rural women to generate their own livelihood and save our environment at the same time.
ACT trains the rural women to handcraft eco friendly utility products out of newspaper waste and also ensures that these products reach the customers, delights them and inspire them to come back for more. ACT has pioneered a sustainable model of women upcyclers and is open to replicate it across all villages of India because it has been tried and tested with 6 or more villages of northern India.
In the words of a leader from an organization that supports ACT in expanding this,
"The work done by ACT is a delightful model where design, innovation and livelihood converge with a strong element of sustainability. Having known ACT and Nilanjana for some time now, I think this model needs replication and up scaling. We at Swechha and Green the Gap wish her all the best for her future endeavors"

The chain of rural upcyclers through their work brings upon progress in their personal lives and transforms India to an eco conscious society. 
In the words of a rural upcycler Najma, 30 years old, mother of three, with ACT since August 2015
"Each product that we make is a labor of love. It takes considerable time and effort to transform used newspaper into beautiful items people would be interested in buying. I use my income for my children's education and other expenses. My daughters will have a different future. I will educate them; I will make sure they get vocational training, and I will see to it that they go out and work and get the exposure that I did not get.”

Glimpse of ACT Products

ACT implements the sustainability of this human chain by marketing its products proactively. Citizens who are wholeheartedly using these products are instrumental in enhancing the lives of the villagers and reducing the carbon footprint.

In the words of a satisfied customer,
"I was visiting my relatives for a wedding ceremony and wanted to carry some gifts for them. After searching through many malls and shops I could not really find something which was exclusive, personal and yet trendy. That’s when ACT products came to my rescue. The promptness and professionalism of the organization took me completely by surprise. And the packaging totally blew my mind. Honestly I had not expected this from an NGO. This beats any professional packaging. As a marketer, I know the importance of packaging-- it is the first element to interact with the customer and make an impression. Brilliant work!
After this first experience with ACT products, they have become my preferred gifting partner. They help you select, offer advice on what will go well with the occasion and of course the products always reach on time.”

Master Trainers
A group of master trainers has emerged from this very chain of upcyclers, who ensure that more and more villages embrace this dual concept of generating livelihood in an environmental friendly manner.

In the words of a trainer, Kusum,
"Waste is valuable It is changing my life and also others. ACT has taught us to be innovative, think new and be a problem solver. I can give a design thought to a waste and develop a product. We are creating art objects that impacts environment and livelihood.

Delhi State Cancer Institute
This chain of rural upcyclers aims to spread smiles and happiness to hundreds of villagers and their family. The latest addition to this chain is the Delhi State Cancer Institute.

Dr. R.K.Grover, MD and Director of the hospital have supported initiative to train and provide skill to the families of the patients getting a treatment in this hospital. The training and the interaction with the families creates an environment to think c
reatively to solve their problems and also help them look forward towards life.

A social entrepreneur Navneet Kaur has facilitated this project to enable ACT to develop skills and support in forward linkage for a regular income of these cancer affected families.

There are numerous such events in which our women upcyclers are constantly engaged in enhancing the chain thus marching ahead to fulfill ACT’s vision.

Come join us in our vision. Empower yourself by becoming a change agent, use our products and spread the word. See paperwings.in for more.

25 May 2017


You are one of the most important influencer for the success of ACT. You are a powerful instrument to facilitate ACT attain its goals.Yes its YOU !

ACT is grateful for your continuous support and look forward to your active participation in taking “Paper Wings” to its eternal flight to all households of the world thus enabling the financial and emotional emancipation of hundreds of rural women of India.

 “You” is a very broad term but ACT defines all our patrons, well wishers, advisors, volunteers, government personnel, and donors as “You.” It all started with two but now it is unfair to restrict “You” with a fixed number. It is growing by the day.

What can you do to receive ACT’s endless showers of gratitude?

As a patron, if you plan to:

  • Buy or replace a household item, do look at ACT catalogue or send an email to ACT to find an eco-friendly substitute.
  • Organize a birthday party; do think of having ACT products as return gifts.
  • Attend a house warming party, design an ACT gift hamper. The new house owners will be thankful.
  • Organize stationery for a conference, a team meeting or an outing, explore ACTs catalogue.
  • Celebrate a festival with your family in an eco-friendly and socially responsible way, ACT will delight you with festive products for Diwali, Rakshbandhan, Holi, or Christmas.
  • Set up a green space in your house, ACT’s planters will server all your purposes.
  • Engage children meaningfully during school breaks, talk to ACT for workshops and events on up-cycling and environmental awareness.

Click this link to view more products :

And last but not the least, if you are happy with ACT products; do spread the word among your friends, colleagues and other family members and write us your testimony. We are happy to publish it on our web site.

As a well wisher or a donor:

  • Give away your old newspapers to the women groups
  • Contribute a small sum for the various programs and projects aimed for the skill development of the rural women.
  • Use ACT’s up-cycled products. Introduce the products to your friends & family and encourage them to share the same in their respective circles.
  • Share your feedback, inputs and ideas with ACT, about making the products more usable and popular.  
As government personnel:

  • Provide a patient ear to ACT’s journey and work model.
  • Accept our proposals for replicating the model to many more districts and villages.
  • Provide support to engage more rural women for skill development training programs.

 As an advisor:

  • Join our advisory board to contribute in strategizing ACT’s growth path.
  • Help us network with relevant groups and social entrepreneurial platforms.

As a volunteer:

  • Engage with ACT’s activities whether on field or at the office center.  
  • Design a new up-cycled product for ACT.
  • Provide a handholding session to women groups.
  • Participate in activities aimed to create an eco-conscious society and advocate ACT’s products at such events.
  • Help ACT to reach out to the world through social media

ACT needs each one of yours participation in the smallest way possible. We value your time and contribution with honors. Together we can make an impact 

                                       B E    A    C H A N G E M A K E R

For all queries connect to us at :

3 April 2017

Empowering Women of Rural India

The terms empowerment is synonymous with women of this world. Nature has bestowed one of its most vital powers to women: create, nurture, and deliver a new life. This is profoundly empowering for the entire feminine fraternity of the earth. 
Yet it is ironical that we have March 8th as the international women’s day to focus on efforts to empower women.

Socially, after years of suppression, and domination, women seemed to have accepted themselves as inferior to men. Fortunately, not all women have grown in such environments but have received equal opportunity to thrive, to contribute and to succeed in all walks of life as men. Today women have excelled in academics, economics, governance, corporate, art, science, and technology.

Currently economic independence is one of the parameters for women to regain their status of equality with men. This independence leads to a sense of freedom to make their own decisions and to choose the best for their children’s well-being. Woman empowerment also means to develop the clarity to take control of her future.

Financial independence has made the rural women go out of the four walls of their house, interact with confidence, think positively about her community and contribute in overall development of her village. The women have developed the ability to come up with out of the box solutions for their daily challenges at home or at work. They have earned the well deserved respect in their society.

Being compassionate towards efforts to empower the rural women is the need of the hour. And compassion means enabling them to realize their own potential and renew their lost confidence to influence their life and community progressively.

ACT has started this journey since 2010, not only training rural women with various up-cycling skills but facilitating them to regain their self confidence and reignite their naturally empowered souls.

Let’s see how ACT has enabled the awakening of the women in villages that in turn has made an impact on the quality of their daily lives. This journey had its own hurdles and challenges but ACT has emerged victorious with tons of learning from each and every project. Moving from one project to another seemed like achieving milestones. ACT started its training programs with two women and today it has sown the seed of development and independence among 200 women. ACT also plays a role to connect the rural women to the market and provide a forward linkage for sustainability.

2012: The first project involved motivating and training 20 women of the Bandhwari village in Gurgaon district. 

2013: ACT Trained 40 women migrants from Nepal who were HIV infected, and resided in the Delhi – NCR area. This time bound project was initiated and supported by the Modi Foundation

2014: ACT implemented a skill development program for 40 women of the Kanpur village in Udaipur district. This six months project was supported by Hindustan Zinc Limited.

2015: ACT conducted workshops for skill development of 40 women in the Saat Gaon Road village in Hissar district and 20 women in the Bhondsi urban village in Gurgaon district. Jindal Foundation supported the program in Hissar. ACT is also involved in providing market exposure to these women and their upcycled products. ACT continues to provide them the know how to sustain their skills beyond the stipulated time period of the project.

2016: ACT worked on skill development of 10 women of the Gwalpahari village and 10 women of the Islamabad village in Palwal, Faridabad and 10 women of the Bhondsi semi urban and 10 women of the Pallera village.

ACT continues to work with women clusters of Bandhwari, Bhondsi, Gwalpahari , Islamabad, Bhondsi semi urban and Pallera village in an ongoing manner.

Are you aware of a women cluster of a village or a group of villages who would benefit from such workshops or a team that is in need of an organized effort? Are you eager to get involved in such projects? Reach out to us at ACT. 

Send an email, call us up. We will enable you to define goals, share our learning, train your women cluster and facilitate you to empower your team in a sustainable manner.

1 March 2017

Upcycling Newspaper

The daily newspaper delivered at your doorstep every morning holds its value for a few hours of that day. When the day is over, the newspaper is trashed to an unused remote corner or shelf of your house. Without going into the details of the effort that went to generate that quantity of news in a newspaper, do we realize the huge quantity of newspaper trash that is created in every household of a city or town? If we multiply the amount into the average number of cities in a state and then number of states in our country, it amounts to tons of newspaper in a day and, once the day has passed, the monetary value of that amount of paper is nearly zero.

ACT has tapped this immense potential of creating something useful out of this easily available, inexpensive and unlimited trash. The biggest motivation is that ACT will have a continuous supply of this resource material. Therefore the issue of resource crunch does not exist. ACT has worked to harness the concept of upcycling the newspapers.

Why upcycling?

Because it is superior than recycling by several ways: cost effective, leaves no carbon footprint, no additional machinery needed. Recycling involves processing the resource material further to produce a product. The processing may involve adding more material or using a machine and electricity, thereby inviting considerable expense in the recycling process. 

Upcycling means reusing the resource material in an innovative way to produce a purposeful product that is more valuable than the original material. ACT decided to upcycle newspaper to create eco-friendly and useful household products. Imagine the newspaper trash lying in your corner shelf transforming into a beautiful tea table, a wall clock, a pen holder, a table runner, a flower vase, natural jewellery and many more beautiful artifacts. Isn’t this creative magic? ACT has made that true for you.

A group of professional designers train the rural women members of ACT. A few women are also explicitly groomed into master trainers. The master trainers are instrumental into bringing in more villages into this effort of upcycling newspaper.

The process starts with designing the end product, collection of newspapers, sorting the papers,  cutting them precisely, and using the techniques of  folding, quilling, coiling and weaving  papers to form the framework of the product. Glue is used to make the products strong and sturdy. Then the paper objects are assembled together to form the final product. Several variations are given to the products by means of color, varnish, shades, and sizes.

The ACT team is constantly working to enhance the look and quality of the products. The criteria of this quality assurance process are to maintain a high standard for the aesthetics and usability of the products. Customer feedback plays a vital role in forming the standards. The catalogue is expanded on a regular basis. The latest addition to the group of stationary products is pens, pencils, and notebooks. ACT aspires to have an eco-friendly substitute of any household product you name.

Through this initiative  and the brand name of  the upcycled paper products called Paper Wings, ACT has created a win-win situation for all: Training rural women to upcycle newspaper into useful household products to generate their livelihood and consequently ACT's commitment towards environmental upkeep and sustenance is also fulfilled.

ACT’s products are sold at various avenues. It all started through word of mouth and today these products are very popular among ACT’s friends and well-wishers. Today ACT has grown to produce bulk orders for fairs, exhibitions, corporate conferences, stores, hotels, and airports.

The creators, our very own rural women crafters, have found a way to generate sustainable income from these bulk orders.

The other avenues of livelihood are: The master trainers earn by imparting training to other villages, conducting workshops for schools, corporates and other platforms on upcycling and generating awareness about embracing the upcycled products.

In conclusion, ACT products showcase the concept of upcycling to generate sustainable livelihood in an environment-friendly manner.

25 February 2017

Let Your Newspaper Bring Positive, Lasting Change

If you tell a person that their old, discarded newspaper can help turn someone's life around ... they would find it hard to believe.

Turn a life around -- sounds like an overstatement? Not when you've witnessed it first-hand. And we have -- not once -- but over and over through ACT's journey of the last five years.

Through Kaagaz Ke Pankh, a rural women livelihood initiative, ACT trains rural homemakers in the craft of upcycling. The women groups use your old newspaper to create colourful, eco-friendly utility products, jewellery and artefacts for your home and workplace.

Kusum, master trainer from Bandhwari village, Haryana

Here are a some instances of real change these spirited women have experience with your support.

-        Kusum, who could not look straight, let alone speak to us, when we first met her – has grown into a seasoned master craftsperson who now trains other women in the craft of upcycling.
-        Rajni, who would never leave her home without a male family member, now travels regularly to other cities to conduct training sessions and speak about women empowerment. If you are familiar with the general lifestyle of rural women, you will understand the magnitude of her achievement.
-        Kavita, a pre-teen when she first joined us, has started a new chapter of the programme in her husband's home in Faridabad, Haryana.
-        Pinki uses her income from Kaagaz Ke Pankh to “buy things for our children that we can’t afford to buy with my husband’s income”.
-        Santoshi, a mother of two, purchased her first mobile phone with her income.
-        Reena, a master trainer, contributed her income to the construction of a toilet in her home.

So, yes, when we tell you that your old newspaper can turn someone's life around, we mean it.
We’ve seen these women evolve and transform. We’ve seen their confidence soar, their creativity flower. We’ve seen them take charge and lead and surprise us with their zeal to learn.

Be a Part of Positive, Real Change. It’s easy.

What the world calls stale news is our primary raw material. We collect it and give it to the women groups who upcycle this waste into a resource.

So, we request you to be generous with your old newspaper, donate it for our craftswomen and support them in their endeavours.

To donate your old newspaper, please call/whatsapp us at +91 9711540102, or,
email us at actioncenterfortransformation1@gmail.com.

Stay blessed.

28 April 2014

Kusum Dahania - From Reserved Homemaker to Master Trainer at ACT

Kusun Dahania is a 28 years old homemaker turned ACT entrepreneur. She went to school until 8th grade. She lives in Bandhawari village with her husband, Yash, who works as a technician at a hospital. He has studied until tenth grade. 

Kusum has three children: one girl, 11, and two boys, 9 and 7. The children go to the government school in the Village. There are also two private schools in the village, however, since the government school charges no fee, Kusum sends her children there. She would like to send her children to the private school if she could afford it. The government school also provides free textbooks, uniforms and lunch up to eighth grade.


Kusum’s house is made of concrete, bricks and mud and built around a large neem tree which is a medicinal tree. There are 15 persons living together in the same compound but each family lives separately in different rooms. It is like a school. Imagine their house as a school with many classrooms. Each classroom is a family room. The kitchen, bathroom and water supply are shared by all. The expenses for each family are also separated. Firewood and cow dung cakes are used as fuel for cooking. Sometimes they also use gas but only for boiling tea and milk as gas is quite expensive for them. 
Kusum’s monthly household expense is about Rs. 5,000. This includes her husband’s travel cost, medical expenses and repayment of a house loan taken from a Self Help Group (SHG). The loan of 10,000 rupees for 10 months means a monthly installment of Rs. 1000. The third component is for food. They mainly eat rice, lotti and chapatti. They also farm bajra, wheat and some crop for consumption.

Kusum had an arranged marriage which is common especially in small villages like Bandhwari. They accept such customs as they respect their family and believe that their parents are the most knowledgeable in these matters. Also, rural women do not have much opportunity to go outside of their house and to meet new partners as they largely spend their time housekeeping. Therefore, women such as Kusum have their fathers select a partner for them in an arranged marriage. 


ACT came to Bandhwari witth the women livelihood project in January 2012. By learning the skill of paper craft using newspapers and selling the products, these women have been able to reap many benefits.

The first benefit is the income they get from selling the products. Before embarking on the project, Kusum had no personal income. The expenses of her home were solely borne by her husband. As she has her own source of income now, she feels more respected in her family. Now, 80% of the total expenses are paid for by her husband and 20% by her.

The more important thing is the resultant confidence she has acquired because she is contributing to her family’s expenses. Now, she can express her opinions and ideas more confidently to her husband. She is happier and when asked questions, she replies confidently. The project has changed her person in many ways.

She is really happy now because she has the confidence to do whatever she wants. She is able to buy what she likes and needs. Of course, the rest of her money also goes to cover emergencies and unexpected expenses such as the doctor fees when her children are ill. Her status in the family has been considerably raised.

Secondly, she is helping the community as well. A part of revenue from selling the products goes to her own community. For example, the money is used to buy books for the rural community library, which are utilized by the village children. Sometimes the money is used for cleaning the village. Thus, she contributes to her community and the education of her community’s children as well.

The revenue from the products is used to pay labor charges, cost of raw material, transportation, marketing charge and a component for community development programs. The percentage of each component can differ from product to product.

The third point is the exposure. She goes to exhibitions, seminars and participates in marketing activities. Before, she had no opportunities to go outside of the village because she was only doing housekeeping. She interacted only with family and neighbors. Now, she has exhibitions in the city which allows her to meet and talk to new people. This has had the impact of building her confidence to talk to strangers.

 “I was afraid of talking to new people before, but now I can talk to anybody. I like talking with people and I enjoy it,” she says with a big smile.


There is one unique value proposition in Kusum's products. That is the material she uses for the paper crafts – newspapers. We read newspapers every day. But what happens once we finish reading the newspapers? We throw them away. While some countries like Japan have a recycling system, this is a better alternative than simply recycling the newspapers as it goes a step further to reuse them into products that people can actually use.

The women in the village are not only reusing the papers but they are also going to corporate hosues, teaching their skills to other people. Kusum has been invited by Panasonic to share her skills.

She has also imparted her skills to school kids on previous occasions. In turn, she is also indirectly educating the children about global warming and how they can reduce it. Through the skills she got from ACT, she is involved in solving the problems of the wider society. She is also enjoying her trips out of the village and receiving new knowledge. It can be see that ACT has had a positive impact on her life.        

As a result of receiving new skills and chances to go outside of the village, she now has dreams. One of her dreams is to start her own business so that the products are now known to be made by her and there may be a greater impact on her family and children. She can help her friends as well through her enterprise. She still has problems and some steps she needs to carry out. One is marketing. She knows how to make the products but the next step is how to sell her products more effectively and how to make it sustainable.

Other learnings include:

  • How to procure newspaper routinely
  • How to set up an exhibition
  • How to enter into a contract with other companies, et cetera.

To market her products effectively, Kusum needs to study English so as to talk and negotiate with outsiders. In addition, she aspires to set up specialized healthcare facilities in the village. One is a maternity hospital in the village as the hospital is 20 to 30km away from village. This is in response to the unhygienic and often unsafe home deliveries many women still go through. The second and third are an X-ray service and blood tests, the latter so that women can be screened for anemia.

The lives of these rural women are laden with challenges. To view these problems in a positive light, these are opportunities for not just ACT alone to seize but for the villagers so that they can take charge of their own community’s development.