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Don’t want this job for my child, say waste pickers

Forty-year-old Sushila Bai was a beggar in her childhood and took up waste picking as her profession.

Published: 18th June 2019 06:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th June 2019 06:07 AM   |  A+A-

Pourakarmikas making rangoli at Freedom Park during Hasiru Habba on Monday  Pandarinath B

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Forty-year-old Sushila Bai was a beggar in her childhood and took up waste picking as her profession. Just the way a lot of waste pickers’ children follow their parents’ footsteps and get into the same profession, Sushila didn’t want the same thing to happen in her case. She had different dreams for her daughters. She dreamed of educating them.“From the time my sister and I were born, my mother told us that she always wished we received education. My father died due to alcoholism when we were young, so it was our mother who took care of us, said Sushila’s daughter, Mangala.

Sushila admitted her children to a hostel and after completing Class-10, they got good marks and moved to Mysuru for college admissions. With scholarships, the girls studied well. However, after they finished there 2nd PUC, Sushila’s relatives asked her to stop her daughters from studying further and get them married. But Sushila protested. “The relatives had stopped us from further studies but my mother did not listen to them. We were staying in a joint family and used to have regular fights at home with the same issue. Later, my mom decided to move out and look for another place to stay,” said Mangala.

Thereafter, Hasiru Dala, a social impact organisation who focuses on securing justice for waste pickers, got in touch with Sushila and trained her on Dry Waste Collection. Now, Sushila has been heading her own Dry Waste Collection Centre (DWCC) in the Mysore Zoo. Hasiru Dala also helped her children with further education. “After my mother started her own DWCC, she started earning well and we are now staying in a better place. With the help of my mother and Hasiru Dala, my sister and me continued with our education. I did my Diploma in Education whereas my sister is doing her BCom,” she added.

Mangala is now a librarian in the Hasiru Dala library. “She is qualified and we have employed her in our library. She knows about books and has been doing good with her work,” said  Lakshmi Kanukaran, trustee of Hasiru Dala.

Anamma also had a similar story. She was waste picker during childhood and is now a confident entrepreneur in her forties who is running a DWCC. Born into a waste picking family, she was married at 20 and continues the same work with her husband. But she wanted her son to be educated.

As a member of Hasiru Dala, she received managerial training and employs four waste pickers at her DWCC. “Like Sushila, Annamma is also a hero. She wanted her son to study and worked really hard for it. She started running a DWCC and now gets a good income, thereby changing her family’s life. Despite facing immense difficulty, she has been able to put her son through school, where he is on the verge of graduating with an A+ average, “ said Lakshmi.

The occupational identity card that Hasiru Dala gave her has changed her life. When once, she had to spend rainy nights under makeshift tents of sticks and plastic sheets on hot days while searching for scrap, she now has health care and scholarships her children. 

SHOWING OFF HIDDEN SKILLS
To celebrate the contributions made by waste-pickers in the city to keep the city clean and green, Hasiru Habba was celebrated at the Freedom Park, Gandhinagar. As many as 10,000 waste-pickers got together from Bengaluru and four other cities like Mysuru, Tumakuru, Chamarajnagar and Nelamangala. of Karnataka. The waste pickers got together and drew beautiful rangolis in the park, which showcased their skills too. Apart from that, some of the children were dancing to the music beats with grace. The members of Hasiru Dala gave away Book Worm prices to children who visited the libraries daily.

a few demands of pourakarmikas
 ●  Recognition of waste pickers and informal waste collector work by formulation of statewide policy.
●  Universal survey of waste pickers.
●  Decentralised waste 
managament and collection system with a special focus on stream management for each category of the state.
●  Schemes for social protection of waste pickers
●  Representation of waste-pickers needed in monitoring and implementation.
●  Every housing facility constructed by government to provide water and electricty at the 
earliest to workers.

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