Aswin ER sells hundreds of eco-friendly paper pens and splits the profits with his group of friends, all of whom are persons with disabilities.

Aswin, a bling man, stands in a room wearing a red kurtha
Features Human Interest Wednesday, December 02, 2020 - 19:04
Written by  Cris

Aswin ER stepped out of the house in Edappally, a town north of Ernakulam, on a Monday evening. He was carrying 310 pens, all made of paper, to a nearby bank where he would sell it. A 26-year-old blind student, Aswin held a white cane in one hand and the parcel of paper pens in the other. The money he made of selling the pens would be divided among a few of his friends, all persons with disabilities. They – a group of four or five persons using wheelchairs – made the pens that Aswin took out to sell every day. The profit helped provide for their expenses and Aswin’s studies.

“The idea of a paper pen first came from Lekshmi Menon, a social entrepreneur in Kochi. My friends with disabilities make these pens in several colours. Except for the refill, the whole body of the pen is made of paper and so it’s eco-friendly,” said Aswin.

He began marketing the pens in February of this year before the lockdown to contain COVID-19 had begun. The idea was to support the friends with disabilities for their livelihood and also take care of his expenses while he prepared for competitive exams, such as bank tests, the PSC exams and so on.

Paper pens made by Aswin's friends with disability

Aswin finished his Bachelors degree at the Sree Kerala Varma College in Thrissur and Masters degree at the Panampilly Memorial Government College in Chalakkudy. His schooling was partly in Aluva and partly in Palakkad, where he is from.

“I am lucky to have got an education. Many people with disabilities haven’t been fortunate enough to have that. I could also move about independently with my white cane while my friends in wheelchairs have their limitations. From the pens I sell for Rs 10 each, 70% of the money goes to them and 30% to me,” Aswin said.

He takes the pens to banks and government offices to sell. Some days would be good and orders of a few hundred would come, though other days have been slow. But whatever they got out of it certainly came of help, especially during COVID-19. “When there was the lockdown and the pens could not be sold, my friends made masks – three tier cloth masks – for Rs 30 each,” Aswin said.  

Aswin can be reached on this number: 85479 21107. Those who are interested in ordering the pens may call him or leave a voice message. 

Also read: For the love of words, 82-year-old compiles dictionary of 4 south Indian languages

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