Stories from the field Author: sarath kt Comments

Sava Bhai, is a 70 year old rag picker from the city of Ahmedabad, India. He picks out garbage thrown to the Sabarmati River and nearby areas and sells the recyclable materials for a living. His family lives in makeshift homemade of abandoned wooden planks and metal sheets he collected from construction wastes. He earns a mere 40-50 US dollars a month. Even though his conditions are hard, he is very aware of the need for environment protection and sustainability.

His day starts early, he sets out with his loyal stray dogs who keeps him company as he picks out useable plastic and metal wastes from the dumps. He does not use any precautions while doing his work, which would surprise a normal person. But he is fine with it and seems to be well squinted with the lifestyle. He segregates all the useable items into a plastic bag, material-wise. He knows about the importance of segregation at source and is frustrated that none of the citizens follow it.

He collects the waste and carries it to the segregation point by foot. I walked with him till the collection point. He was more than cooperative and gave an insight to his peculiar life so far. The newspaper and magazines he reads have given him quite a logical background. From his political statements I could detect the definitive logical judgments an intellectual would possess. He criticized the people for being hypocrites. His exact words were, "They talk a lot about smart cities and smart developments but the citizens should be smart first, they are the same ones littering the city" He walked with such strong confident pace I found it hard to follow up.

Finally, at the segregation centre. The rubble and trash gave the place a war torn appearance. But his wars are not quite over yet. He critiqued the government about how the government policies are not poor-friendly, I could see the undying fight he still has under his wrinkly face, refusing to bent down, refusing to lose. The resilience in his thought and action, for the protection of environment is admirable. But he was helpless as he could not do more for the world but that would never slow him down.

The story doesn't end here. There is a long way to go. As an individual one can only do a small part. He wished that everyone would forget their difference about religion and creed and be one for protecting the environment. He is a living proof that even the poorest of the poor can contribute to the protection of earth. His saga will continue inspiring more people. And such people make this work a better place to live.


* Sarath KT is the People's Choice Winner of 2017 ACCCRN Photo Essay Competition

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