Have we ever thought twice before throwing a plastic bottle into the trash? Have we ever realized that human beings sort our trash by hand? The same empty bottle that we threw could be of great value to someone else.
India has 50,000 waste pickers and each of them has to go through an average of 15 kgs of garbage per day by hand. And amongst these waste pickers, could we have ever imagined, are children. Young, aspiring, curious children. It’s about time we give these shadow citizens of India the respect, recognition, credibility, and help they deserve.
This January, I had the privilege of getting to visit one of the Chintan centers located in Karamveer Dairy, Tuglaqabad. This is the place where most of the garbage collected from Delhi, is dumped.
In other words, this is a dumpster, which also substitutes as a home for hundreds of waste pickers and their families. Let’s just say when I reached there for the first time, I was shocked.
Not just at the unfortunate state of living but also at the wave of positive energy, I felt as soon as I entered the center. This was a place where the children of the waste pickers were educated, taught extra – curricular’s and given hope for the future. I saw several small faces looking up at me, beaming. Me, a complete stranger to them.
However, they felt I brought a sense of hope with me, and they opened up almost instantly. After that day, I visited the center almost thrice every week, each week planning a different, engaging, and educative activity for the children,be it maths, dance, drama, English, etc.
By the end of the month, I had developed friendships and extremely strong bonds with them. I realized that these young lives were bursting with curiosity and were thirsty for knowledge. That’s when this visceral feeling overtook me.
These bright children can not waste their lives separating garbage, they are worthy of leading valuable dynamic meaningful lives.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a further huge crisis. As defenders, these waste pickers are extremely vulnerable to contracting the disease themselves through the appalling mounds of garbage they sort with their bare hands.
Even though the prices of what they sell from our garbage has gone down significantly, the waste workers have not left their work. The sole source of income for them is the Jabari sale which has come to a standstill due to the lockdown.
In these harsh times, we would like to support the community of waste workers by providing them dry ration kits, basic protective equipment and sanitary napkins for women .
You and I together can make a big difference by donating and being the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel for these forgotten citizens of India. Please donate generously if you can. Your kindness can travel even if you can’t.
(Nyrah Kapoor is a 14-year-old student studying at Step By Step School, Noida. She loves reading, dancing, and playing the piano. She’s also passionate about bringing about positive changes in society and helping those in need)