STUDENTS from Sheffield are helping South American villagers survive by keeping out the cold – thanks to blankets and clothes made from recycled crisp packets.
A team of three Sheffield University undergraduates are transforming lives of people in Bolivia at risk of suffering from hypothermia.
Aimee Clark, aged 22, a fourth year mechanical engineering student, Jon Gregg, 22, a third year mechanical engineering student and Amy Scrimgeour, 21, a second year economics student, have spent the last six weeks setting up a business there.
They used designs created by Faye Waple, a third year creative art practice student at Sheffield Hallam, who came up with ideas for coats, ponchos and hats.
The students set up Blankets for Bolivia after experiencing some of the challenges communities face, such as the bitter cold winter nights.
The aim of the project was to help women in La Paz and El Alto become more self-sufficient by using local resources and skills for a recycling scheme, which would also provide a source of income.
After developing a prototype using a bag sealing machine in the UK, the team sourced similar manufacturing equipment in Bolivia.
A crisp packet collection was set up through a community recycling co-operative as well as a collection at schools.
A business was then set up to manufacture and sell the foil blankets, with training provided to the local women before the blankets were sold to community members, other organisations and schools.
Crisp packets were chosen because they retain up to 97 per cent of body heat.
Aimee said: “Blankets for Bolivia was a really hard-hitting project for us. When we were in Bolivia we really saw the need for the blankets and for the women involved to have their own means of income.
“Hopefully, this business will be an inspiration to other women in Bolivia who want to improve their quality of life and that of the people around them in their community.”