Repair Cafes also exist in India. But in this huge Asian country they take a different form than in, for example, Western Europe or North America.
“We have modified the Repair Cafe model for use in India”, says Purna Sarkar, who started Repair Cafe Bengaluru in 2015. This initiative has evolved into an NGO since and is now known as the Repair Cafe Collective India. This collective organizes pop-up repair workshops across Bangalore City.
Proper lighting, clean toilets and electricity
“We don’t have any paid staff; we are a group of fifteen volunteers”, Purna says. “With this group we have meanwhile run more than 50 repair workshops. We have very low resources and try out various places where people can offer us minimal facilities, like proper lighting, clean toilets, electricity and, if possible, a covered space. As a result, we held workshops in garages, school auditoriums and cafés, but also on the sides of roads, in parks, driveways, play areas etc.”
All workshops happen on Sundays, since most volunteers are only available for weekends. “The volunteers organise everything, and we invite professional repairers to join. We pay them on a per workshop basis.”
Online programme for children
Apart from the pop-up workshops, the volunteers run an online programme on home maintenance and upkeep for children, called ‘Tinker Kinder’. “Children are enrolled in this program by their parents. We get a lot of messages from parents who let us know that they would have liked to participate in the workshops too, but were unable to bring themselves to cross distances.”
Thirdly, the Repair Cafe Collective India manages a number of consultative Whatsapp groups. In these groups, people can ask each other for guidance on how to repair various broken objects. “The people in these groups are mainly DIY’ers or home repair enthusiasts”, Purna says. “The repair problems raised in these groups are very diverse. Though not always, the answers or suggestions are beneficial.”
Expansion to other cities
Through this Whatsapp service, the repair activities are now spreading to other cities in India, like Hyderabad and Mumbai. “These are very recent endeavours”, Purna says. “Some of the people who are aware of the workshops done in Bangalore are now getting together in Hyderabad and Mumbai.” Purna hopes this will lead to structural repair meetings across India. “However, a barrier remains in keeping workshops going.”
The Repair Cafe Collective India hopes that their workshops will become a structural programme in Mumbai City too.
More information about the activities of the Repair Cafe Collective India is on their website. Here, you can also register for their workshops and sign up for their Whatsapp groups.