There is no shame in the work I am involved in as I am doing this for my children.
Pacific Recycling Foundation Founder Amitesh Deo says these were the words of a mother of 5 who is a Collection Pillar of Recycling that they came across during their mapping exercise of the informal waste collection sector.
Deo further says the mother revealed to the team she started going to the dumpsite following the devastation caused by TC Winston in 2016 where she collected timber, roofing iron, and tarpaulins to rebuild her house as the money she received through the assistance package was not enough.
The PRF Founder and Waste Recyclers Limited CEO says the 35-year-old woman revealed her community members reacted negatively and even scolded her, however, she has never looked back and continues to go to the dumpsite to help her husband put food on the table.
He further says she has also introduced a barter system whereby she collects items like cheese, tin stuff, combs, mirrors, and hair dye and also picks vegetables from the dumpsite which she shares with her friends in exchange for baby milk and diapers for her youngest child who is two years old.
Deo says a key finding made by the team was that she does not collect scrap metals and other recyclables from the dumpsite for cash but looks for items like pots, pans, water bottles, and buckets for household use.
The PRF Founder says she also revealed that her husband is ashamed of her work, however, she has told him not to listen to others as she is going to the dumpsite to ensure her family is able to survive as the husband is a seasonal worker.
He says in another case, a 28-year-old woman who has a two-year-old child, resorted to collecting cans and beer bottles from the dumpsite to earn a living as her husband used to take her lease money which he spent on drugs and alcohol.
The PRF Founder further says the woman now resides with her parents as she was in an abusive relationship.
He says in a separate case, a 35-year-old woman who has been living on the streets for more than 20 years is surviving by selling recyclables such as PET bottles, cans, scrap metals, and glass bottles.
She currently lives in an abandoned and run-down house with another street dweller.
Deo says following the mapping exercise, the PRF in partnership with relevant government and donor agencies, and development partners would be able to coordinate structured support to improve the working and living conditions of these individuals to ensure they are able to better support their families.
He confirms they have made some referrals to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre as some people needed immediate assistance such as counselling services and other necessary support.
These are just a few of many cases the PRF team captured in the mapping exercise which continues in the Western Division.
The PRF team will continue the mapping exercise this week in Lautoka, Nadi, and Sigatoka before moving to Suva and Nausori, while a team will also be travelling to Labasa and Savusavu.
The Pacific Recycling Foundation’s mapping exercise of informal waste collection is being conducted in partnership with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), FWCC, Asco Motors, and Tourism Fiji.
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