Throwing away old furniture is just a part of life in some parts of the world. But in other areas where schools have little access to resources, it can seem like a travesty.
That’s why Karim Arafa, a Tunisian businessman, collects and upcycles old, broken furniture, making it like new again.
“The beginning of my volunteer work in 2018 is to repair damaged seats and are harmful to the environment and can be recycled to become more beautiful,” he told The Epoch Times.
“I still have many works, I hope to find support to work more.”
A self-proclaimed civil activist, Arafa says he has always wanted to help schools in less fortunate areas of the country.
“I aspire to help the state in education, especially marginalized schools,” he said. “I like our education to be like developed countries,” he said. “I am funding this activity from my own money.”
The clever refurbisher received media attention for his furniture transformations when he used his quarantine time to mend and repaint every broken piece of furniture in one school.
His accomplishments were shared on Instagram by The Good News Movement, captioned: “In every single corner of the World right now there is someone helping others.” The post went viral with over 143,000 likes.
Arafa showed Reuters his collection of what some people would call “junk.”
“As you can see,” he said, holding up a broken chair, “this chair is in bad condition and many would think it is no longer usable. But we fix it and remove the rust to give it a makeover.”
But the entrepreneur wasn’t finished. Not only does he want to help out communities in need, but Arafa wants to reduce the environmental impact of discarded furniture.
“In the beginning, I volunteered at an institute. I saw discarded tables and chairs thrown away, which is an environmental hazard,” he said. “I opened this workshop to collect [scraps] and recycle them.”
Just this month, Arafa helped rebuild a bridge and a local railway.
“Focusing and building the bridge from the railways and the remains of school furniture,” he wrote on Facebook on Nov. 19.
“The process is not finished yet and we have reached 80 percent of the work. This bridge is supervised by Khairat Engineers for the safety of passersby.”
He told Reuters that he hopes to expand his operation. He already has three employees, but they want to do more.
“I hope that the project will grow and get support from authorities, the cabinet, the presidency or civil society, and that I will be able to hire hundreds of workers, not just three,” Arafa said.
Until then, Arafa is focused on helping out any way that he can. Most recently, he posted a picture of sewer guards that he helped construct to prevent children from falling into the sewers during times of heavy rainfall.
“Just a simple idea,” he humbly wrote, “to protect our young and old.”
We would love to hear your stories! You can share them with us at email@example.com