Recycling at the Dump-site: Women struggle to survive

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“… sometimes we sleep here because we can’t afford rent”
… seek support on recycling project

By Perseverance Javangwe

“Our group is called the Foundation Group. We are here to try and irk a living. We have to pay rentals and also school fees for our children.”

“I work here at Kwekwe dump-site. Our problem is that our buyers who come from places like Harare, they come and purchase these plastics with very low amounts that are insufficient to sustain our families. This makes life difficult for us. The buyers take advantage of our tough situations and pay us low. We wish we could have someone to help us, we want to operate just like the people working at Pomona dump-site in Harare. Here in Amaveni, Kwekwe we have no one to help us. We are struggling to sustain our families with the little money that we get. We are appealing for any organisations, individuals, public or private companies to help uplift us in this recycling process,” said Amai Moyo.

The covid-19 lockdown initiated to curb the spread of the virus made life unbearable for them because they could not afford to sell plastics and earn a living. Working at the dump-site was also a challenge since it was regarded as a dirty place.

“I started working here in 2013. I have eight children and have no one to help me support them so I felt this place could help me get something to help sustain my family. I don’t have a proper place to live. I joined the Foundation Group so that together we can try to achieve something in life but it is difficult considering that we do not have anyone to uplift us. We appeal for help in terms of working equipment such as protective clothing.

“When covid-19 lockdown was implemented it made life difficult for us. We could only sneak here just for a short period, because this place is regarded as a dirty place. According to the health guidelines it’s not permitted to be here during the pandemic so life was difficult. Since the lockdown it has been difficult to get buyers. When schools were opened we failed to pay our children’s fees and they are at home because we cannot have money at the moment,” said Amai Chiwara.

“ I have been working here for quiet some time now but have failed to do something tangiable because I only work for hand to mouth. I can not do any other projects because what I get here is very low. Our buyers pay us low amounts. During the lockdown it was tough because the garbage was not coming. Life was difficult,” added Mai Moyo

“The major challenge is we are paid very low sums of money. Above all we are paid in RTGS which can only get us food at home but we cannot afford to pay rentals. When our landlords raise their rentals it even becomes harder for us to pay. When we receive RTGS from our buyers it becomes difficult for us to pay rentals because our landlords do not accept RTGS they only want the US Dollar which we do not have. So sometimes we are forced to leave our children at home while we sleep here to avoid our landlords. There is no way they can remove my children at home while I am here.

“During lockdown it was difficult to navigate through life. If you check my skin it is very bad because we cannot afford to buy skin lotion. Sometimes we used some cooking oil from the containers we pick here at the dump-site. We wish we could find people who can intervene and support us in this recycling project,” said Amai Anna.

“The challenge here is we come across some objects that are not safe to handle without protective clothing, for example injections, cracked bottles, dangerous chemicals, poison. We handle all of this without protective clothing and often times we get hurt. We wish we could find well wishers to help us acquire protective clothing. As a group our goal is to have a machine that we use to crush our pilets so that we can do our own things rather than selling to people who pay us sick money. We believe we can do our own work in the recycling process if only we can get support,” said a woman who refused identification.

“Often times we sleep here even though it is raining. During the just ended rain season we slept here several times trying to push hard in our work. Sometimes we don’t even get buyers, this makes life even more difficult because we cannot sustain our lives,” said Amai Chigodora.

One woman added that her children also wear clothe that they get form the dump-site but this does not fit well with the community she lives.

“My children survive through the clothes that we get here at the dump-site. They have become a laughing stock to people in my area. Our neighbors have a tendency to mock me and my children for wearing clothes we get here. We wish we could find help from well-wishers so that we can be able to do great through this Foundation group,” said Amai Dube.

The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of their social economic health status is a highly important end in itself. It is also essential for the sustainable achievement of the Development Goals. Let’s extend a hand to this group of women who are part of the global warming fight through recycling. Providing them with protective clothing can put a smile on their faces.

Plastic pollution poses a threat to plants and animals as well as human beings who are based on land. Research has shown that plastics can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soils which can then sip into ground water or into the ecosystem. It is against this background that the Foundation Group has become the front liners against plastic pollution. However, our wavering support can for a long way in reducing emissions.

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