Have you ever wondered about the plight of the waste collectors who collect our waste without any safe equipment, just so that our surroundings remain clean and disease free?
Waste collectors work hard for menial or no wages to ensure that we don’t drown in the waste we generate. Their public service ensures that the waste we generate does not become a serious health hazard for us. In return for the crucial service they do for our society, we don’t even assure them their basic right to dignity of life. They lack proper working conditions and equipment and tools like basic gloves and face masks to handle our waste safely without putting their own health at risk. For additional income, waste collectors also scavenge through landfills on a hunt for anything they can sell for recycling for a few extra rupees. Their young join the profession to aid the income of the family, thus sacrificing their chances of getting an education and getting trapped in the vicious cycle of making ends meet. Going to bed with their bellies swollen by hunger, these families are forced to live an inhuman life.
Waste generation is inevitable. But what if the collection of our waste was not? Do we take waste collectors for granted?
What would it be like if these heroes of cleanliness did not collect our waste for single day? Or for a week? Or for a month? Can you feel the images of waste strewn about on the streets surface in your mind? The stink of rotting food, plastic bags choking our drains, stray animals choking on the improperly disposed broken glassware. Within a few days, the dumpsite becomes a breeding site for diseases that threaten our communities.
The direct impact includes-
- Rotting garbage produces harmful gases that cause breathing problems and nausea in people.
- As the rotting waste comes in contact with the water supply, it can cause diseases like Cholera.
- Mosquitoes tend to rapidly multiply in such localities causing epidemics like Malaria, Dengue, and Chikungunya.
- Diarrhoea and Pneumonia become increasingly common in children due to contaminated food and water.
The ‘SARYU NANDINI’ program ideated and implemented by the eArth Samvarta Foundation is a dedicated attempt in serving these invisible heroes of the modern time.
eSF’s Saryu Nandini (daughters of Saryu River) Entrepreneurship program for women from low-income communities in the Saryu River ecosystem is training women ragpickers on how waste can be converted into wealth through reusing, upcycling, recycling, composting and even biogas generation. Additionally, every piece of waste that is ‘curated’ by Saryu Nandinis and converted into a lucrative product, is a piece of waste that wouldn’t pollute our air and water, choke our rivers and oceans or kill innocent animals and birds.
The achievement of this program will be judged on the following targets:
- 100% at source segregation in the pilot district in the next 5-7 years using awareness programs and workshops conducted by the Saryu Nandinis with the local people.
- Completely scientific and safe handling of waste by waste collectors using proper equipment.
- Reduce the area under landfill use by 33% in the pilot district.
- Removing children under 14 years of age from any kind of hazardous employment and putting them under the SENTINELS program which will include their conventional, vocational and environmental education including their tutelage for institutes like Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Kendriya Vidyalaya, G.I.C., and G.G.I.C.
- Empower women from the waste collector and ragpicker communities with Skill Development in business leadership, product development, e-commerce, digital literacy and financial literacy.
- Provide ragpickers with the additional and sustainable source of livelihoods under Saryu Nandini Waste to Wealth Program
If you have been an active, responsible, and compassionate citizen, you would know this is a long and arduous journey- one that can not be undertaken without vehement support. Your contribution will change the lives of young children and women, giving them a chance to achieve their dreams. It will help empower the women of the waste collectors and ragpicker communities by providing them the dignity they deserve. Moreover, it will ensure the health of your family and the ecological well being and aesthetic beauty of your home, your community and your nation.
A small step from you can help waste collectors take a giant step from Landfills to Leadership and from Waste to Wealth!
We are launching crowdfunding campaign for the Saryu Nandini program soon! In the meanwhile you can reach us here to discuss support for ragpickers here.