In the west, we are privileged when it comes to the issue of rubbish collection. We separate our waste into bags and from there into counselling recycling bins and then it is all collected by a big shiny council refuse truck and taken away…hardly a hand gets dirty.
But imagine if garbage and recycling were something you had to do for a living…on the streets, rummaging amongst mountains of waste on the kerb sides, in the stations or on the tips on the edge of town…dirty, sweaty, stinking work that earned you 30 rupees a day…not even enough for a meal. Would you be happy about it?
Thousands of people in India earn their living by ‘waste picking’. For the most part, the workers are individuals unsupported by any Government or NGO’s (I recognise the support, organisation and recognition that is given to waste pickers in some states in India, such as Bangalore). Pickers live in make-shift huts beside the dumps; suffer disease; are looked down upon by society; live under constant threat from attack and abuse, harassment by police and other authorities. They live in primitive conditions, lack basic health care are rejected, often abused and struggle to provide food for their children and education is not an option.
Jonathan and his team provide essential support to people who often feel on the edge, even outside of society. In his regular visits to waste picker communities and families, he brings food, clothing, educational items for the children and a message of hope.
From my listening to reports from India regarding the lives of the poor on the streets and in the slums, there is a growing recognition that even at the lowest levels of society, that raised aspiration can lead to a better standard of life...see Annamma’s story. But she had to flee Andra Pradesh in order to realise her aspirations.
Children in a Waste Picker community.
Are you able to help Jonathan and his team to continue to support the waste pickers in his district? If so, reply in the comments section and I will give you details of how you can bring hope and aspiration the waste pickers of Visakhapatnam.
Distributing food to Waste Pickers