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!
What our Organisation does:
We face a lot of small and big problems in our daily lives. Sometimes an inflated hospital bill. A government official delaying a certificate. A husband who thinks he can batter his wife. A school that asks for a donation. A policeman asking for......................we bring all these problems to our organisation and we discuss how to go about solving them.
Most of us are illiterate. No one ever took the trouble to get us admitted us into school. If they did no one bothered to find out if we attended. Our parents were waste pickers and labourers. They must have thought what good will school do for children of labourers? So they took us to work with them. They did not know any better. We do. We have vowed to educate our children. We send our children to school and college. We want them to choose what they want to do in life. Read about how our children are doing.
Health concerns seemed absurd when we sat sifting through waste in a garbage bin. That was then. Now we have health insurance. Many of us still work in the bin or in the dump. We don’t create waste. We are part of managing it. But that cannot be at the cost of our health. We know that Now.
Some years ago we wanted to open a bank account for our self help group. The bank manager said all his other customers would leave if we started going there. So we decided start our own credit coop. It was after all our own money that we were saving!
Every evening we go to the dealer to sell the scrap that we have collected. Not a day goes by without a squabble over weights and rates. So we started our own shop. We call it Kashtachi Kamai. It is after all the fruit of our labour.
It is not as if we just work and do nothing else. We also sing and dance and socialise and celebrate.
What is the real value of the work we do? How much waste is generated in a city? How much do we contribute? How many people work in waste? What happens to the waste we collect? What kind schemes will benefit us? These are some of the questions we explore through research.
We realise that on our own we cannot do all that we would like to. We need to speak to people in government and others in power. We need to convince them to convince others as well. We try to do it in a variety of ways.
There are workers like us in many cities of India and in other parts of the world. Some of them have their own organisations. Others still need to organise themselves. We forge links with all of them in our common struggle.