26-11-2021 by Leni Frau
It is not possible to pretend nothing happened or, worse, to exploit their image just to denounce an inhuman situation that has been dragging on for years in the slums of Nairobi: the waste pickers in the landfills of the metropolis, the so-called "Waste pickers", will never have dignity if with a good dose of realism will not be recognized and protected that infamous work and the result of human impiety, but in fact present and the only one that allows hundreds of men and women, particularly underage, to bring home a meal a day, reselling the waste stolen in the garbage to companies that recycle metals and plastics.
Complaining is of little use and the facts are that for years this work has continued in spite of promises, willing international associations and local communities that try to intervene, services and media exposure.
Two associations, Nairobi Recyclers and Clean Up Kenya, have set up a campaign for the rights and dignity of waste pickers to be recognized.
"It is a new initiative, which proposes to intervene both to protect minors from exploitation and so that adults can organize themselves to defend their rights and get adequate compensation for their work, considering them for what they actually are, that is, ecological operators - explains from his social profile Father Kizito Sesana, who through his association Koinonia supports the "Waste Pickers" - not objects of compassion, but protagonists capable of claiming their dignity and their rights".
Many local political figures have joined the initiative, which bodes well, such as the Honorable Waithera Chege and John Kiarie, who has prepared a parliamentary question asking what measures the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is studying or putting into practice to protect minors from exploitation.
The Italian Comboni Father, who has been involved for years in assistance and projects for the growth of the last ones in Nairobi, is one of the advocates of this battle.
Shalom House was the site of the first official meeting of the Waste Pickers," Sesana recalls. "A tower made out of plastic bottles recovered along Kabiria Road dominated the scene.
Reading their posters you understand the novelty of this initiative, and the importance of supporting them. The Waste Pickers can become the vanguard of change for urban cleanliness and hygiene in Kenya. We started moving in this direction almost 30 years ago. Now, finally, a new sensibility has matured and the young people that Koinonia sensitized then are the protagonists of this change that comes from below. If someone wants to twin with a concrete project that changes the lives of participants and sensitizes the whole society, here they are: Narec and Clean Up Kenya."
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