Wednesday April 1, 2020

Dignity is not a property of the Rich: Inspirational story of a Mumbai Rag Picker

Organisations like Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) and Solid Waste Collection and Handling (SWaCH) are helping the rag pickers or ‘waste pickers’ lead a dignified life by helping them fight for their rights

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The Mumbai woman who keeps India clean. Image source: Deccan Chronicle

What makes a story connect with so many people? Humans of Bombay, a very popular Facebook page, has taken the responsibility of portraying individuals along with a glimpse into their very simple yet uniquely different encounter with life. Their page says ‘We catalogue the beat of the city, one story at a time’.

On Monday the page featured a picture of a woman, who looks in her twenties and later revealed as a mother of two. She was married when she was 14 to a boy two years older than her. The story does not make big claims. It just talks about the unseen struggle of hundreds of people who are victims of social discrimination because of the work they do. They are the ‘labours’ in the country trying so hard to adopt the philosophy of ‘Dignity of Labour’.

cows eating trash. Image source: Wikipedia
cows eating trash. Image source: Wikipedia

The original post read:
I was born in a family of limited means. We were all sent to school, but in the 7th standard my family decided that I should drop out — and I didn’t fight it because I knew that money wasn’t coming in easy. My brothers continued to go to school and I took classes in sewing and embroidery, until the age of 14 when I got married to my husband who was only 16 back then. In our community, this wasn’t unheard off. Even though we were both children, the responsibility on us was immense — my father-in-law was no more and my husband’s brother passed away in a train accident, leaving behind his wife and two children who were to be looked after as well.
At the age of 15, I began to go door to door in big buildings, asking if their trash needed to be collected. I started collecting trash this way and it led to me becoming a rag picker. I was always well received by people who would call me a ‘sweet girl’ or give me sweets to eat, all because I never complained about anything. Some of these people gave me bigger jobs like cleaning their home and I took on them gladly because I knew that my family desperately needed the money.
I became a mother after a few years and I wondered how I would tell my children that this is how I earn my money. I decided I would wait until the right age — but all of my apprehensions disappeared when the time came to send them to school. I realised, that if it weren’t for the 10,000 Rupees I was earning every month… they wouldn’t have an education. I had tears in my eyes as I thanked God for everything — the foul smell of garbage, the hard days of going door to door and the different homes I cleaned.
Both my sons accept my work and there is nothing more I could ask for. I was terrified that they would be embarrassed of me, but they have been so supportive. My younger son recently wrote an essay on me for his class. It was called, ‘My Mother Keeps India Clean’— I didn’t understand a lot of it but it was enough just to know that he wrote about me… I’m a happy mother.”

The post has 32,000 likes and 3295 shares. The story clearly resonates with a large number of people.
The organisations like Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) and Solid Waste Collection and Handling (SWaCH) are helping the rag pickers or ‘waste pickers’ lead a dignified life by helping them fight for their rights. They help them work professionally and upgrade their livelihood. These organisations are authorized by the state municipal corporations with the twin objective of solving a huge problem of waste management and making a ‘menial’ job of cleaning up trash not so menial anymore and also in a way that is way more hygienic.
The official page of KKPKP, a trade union of waste-pickers in Pune, says:
“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.”
The union brings together waste pickers, itinerant waste buyers, waste collectors and other informal recyclers. They recover, collect, categorise and sell scrap materials such as corrugated board, paper, plastics, metals and glass for recycling. They also provide garbage collection, composting and related waste management services.

-by Shivangi

Shivangi is an intern at NewsGram

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    A story that touches your heart! This is truly an inspirational story which everyone should know about! Humans of Bombay are doing an amazing job too

  • Shubhi Mangla

    A great job being done by Humans of Bombay! Waste pickers to keep our country clean. Their job should not be looked upon as disgraceful

Next Story

Ways to Keep Your Kids Engaged During Lockdown

Activities for kids at home during this lockdown

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Kids
With almost no access to playgrounds and playdates, kids may get bored and here are some ways to keep them engaged. Pixabay

BY PUJA GUPTA

The nationwide lockdown has left children under house arrest. During this period, parents should know how to keep their these little energy balls engaged and manage their time effectively.

With almost no access to playgrounds and playdates, kids may get bored easily and this may result in an increase in screen time. Pavit Nanda from Momspresso lists few ways to help keep kids engaged.

Kids
Your kids can spend hours drawing and painting. Pixabay

Art and craft session at hometo keep kids occupied for hours

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Make a schedule – Since schools are closed, it’s important to reinforce what’s done at school, so make a daily schedule for children and ensure they spend some time reinforcing what had been done at school. Give them worksheet or assignments to do.

DIY stuff – Try inexpensive ways to keep kids busy. Give them old CDs, match sticks, unwanted woollen threads, coloured papers, glues, balloons, ice-cream sticks, etc and encourage them to make some creative things out of it.

Flameless cooking – Get them to make their breakfast or evening snacks with easy flameless cooking recipes.
They can make they vegetable sandwich or lime water or fruit chaat or bhel or sweet corn salad.

Clean their toy stock – Ask them to take out all their toys and help them clean and segregate it.

Kids
Encourage your kids to learn cooking. Pixabay

Play with toy collection at home – If you have put away some toys for a period of time because your kid gets bored really fast. It is time to give it to them. Board games, Uno cards, building blocks, playsets, and puzzles are just a few of the good toys that can keep kids engaged for hours. But sometimes they have to be reminded of these toys.

Pretend play – It encourages creativity. Children start by pretending to do everyday activities, they then participate and play with figures/dolls/teddies. They also enjoying role play activity kits like doctor set, kitchen set, beauty kits, etc

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Encourage story telling – show and tell – children are natural at this, creating elaborate fantasies with stuffed animals or action figures. They use their stuff toy collection or animal figure toys to create their own stories.
Set up a playlist of your kids’ favorite jams and let them dance

Also Read- Researchers to Develop Paper-Based Device to Detect Coronavirus in Wastewater

It’s time to spend some quality time with children and family and make the best of this opportunity! Create and capture the beautiful moments and make memories for lifetime. (IANS)