We pick up what someone has discarded as having no value and give it value through our labour. Long ago in 1990, we were treated like the trash we collect. People would shoo us away like they would dogs. They would cover their noses when they passed us. It hurt. We were not sitting in garbage because we enjoyed it! We were there because we wanted the recyclables. We mostly worked alone, sometimes with friends who did not care too much about it either. Our mothers and grandmothers had done it before us. It was this work that brought us money to feed ourselves and our families so we did it.
One summer’s day in 1993 all of us gathered in a hall to talk. We talked like we never had before giving vent our anger and frustration at the way we were treated.....like trash!
What does our organisation do? We have called this section Initiatives instead of Programmes because it tells you something about how we work too. We take the initiative. We always look out for opportunities, the little spaces where we can squeeze in. We are not afraid to dream. We are not afraid of failure. Every challenge is an invitation to change. Irrepressible optimists......that’s who we are! Don’t forget we even earn a living out of waste!
Now when someone asks us what work we do we tell them we recycle waste. It was not like this many years ago. Then we would say “Nothing”. Then we would say we just rummage through waste. Then we did not know that there would be other takers for it. Yes we did earn money from selling the scrap that we managed to collect. None of us really thought of it as work. Just as something that we did to make ends meet.read more