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Photo Essay: The Story Of A Rag Picker

NEWS WORLD INDIA | 0
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| June 20 , 2015 , 21:04 IST
[caption id="attachment_60730" align="aligncenter" width="1192"] Young waste pickers look for recyclable items at a landfill as the sun sets on the outskirts of New Delhi. Rag picking is effectively the primary recycling system in India. While the rag pickers offer invaluable services to the city, they have few rights and are exposed to deadly poisons everyday. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
Six months ago, Marjina stepped off a train in New Delhi with her two children, hoping to find a better life after her husband abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. She thought leaving her home in West Bengal to find work in the Indian capital would give her children a chance at a better life. But the only job she could find was as a “rag picker” — picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle. Also See: Photo Essay: Alice in Crackland – Cocaine Diaries From Samba-land
[caption id="attachment_60736" align="aligncenter" width="1111"]Marjina leaves for the train station after saying goodbye to her neighbors outside her rented shanty on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Six months ago, Marjina stepped off a train in New Delhi with her two children, hoping to find a better life after her husband abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. The family spent their days at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle. After six months of poverty, illness and shame, they returned to that train station in New Delhi, headed back to an uncertain future to their hometown in West Bengal. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Marjina leaves for the train station after saying goodbye to her neighbors outside her rented shanty on the outskirts of New Delhi. Once Marjina stepped off a train in New Delhi with her two children, hoping to find a better life after her husband abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. The family spent their days at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle. After six months of poverty, illness and shame, they returned to that train station in New Delhi, headed back to an uncertain future to their hometown in West Bengal. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
  It is filthy, dangerous work, performed by millions of people across India. Rag picking is effectively the primary recycling system in India. But the work is by no means environmentally friendly, and very far from being secure. While the rag pickers offer invaluable services to the city, they have few rights. Every day, they are exposed to deadly poisons. Marjina, who goes by only one name, and her children — daughter Murshida, 12, and 7-year-old son Shahid-ul — spent their days at a landfill in Gazipur, on the outskirts of New Delhi. The next morning they would sit outside their single-room shanty and sort the trash into metal, plastic and paper. The children counted themselves lucky if they found a discarded toy or plastic jewelry to play with. The family earned just $26 per month. Rent was $9. The work took a toll on the family’s health. Marjina’s children were constantly sick. Her daughter contracted dengue fever and had to be hospitalized.
  [caption id="attachment_60748" align="aligncenter" width="1158"]Marjina, right, and her 12-year old daughter Murshida, walk down from a landfill after working the entire day here. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Marjina, right, and her 12-year old daughter Murshida, walk down from a landfill after working the entire day here. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched a “Clean India” campaign where he asked people to help keep their surroundings tidy. But there were no benefits announced for people like Marjina. After months of poverty, illness and shame, Marjina and her children returned to that train station in New Delhi on Nov. 18, headed back to an uncertain future in West Bengal. “I do not want my children to die in this trash,” she said. Daily wage labor back home would earn Marjina barely enough to survive. Her children, who did not go to school in New Delhi, likely won’t in West Bengal, either, though all Indian children have a right to free education. Whatever awaits the family, Marjina said, it could not be worse than life as a rag picker in New Delhi. [caption id="attachment_60757" align="aligncenter" width="1125"]Young waste pickers look for recyclable items at a landfill. Rag picking is effectively the primary recycling system in India. While the rag pickers offer invaluable services to the city, they have few rights and are exposed to deadly poisons everyday. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Young waste pickers look for recyclable items at a landfill. Rag picking is effectively the primary recycling system in India. While the rag pickers offer invaluable services to the city, they have few rights and are exposed to deadly poisons everyday. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60759" align="aligncenter" width="1153"]Marjina, right, segregates trash with the help of her children and a young neighbor outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Marjina, right, segregates trash with the help of her children and a young neighbor outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60761" align="aligncenter" width="1134"]Murshida, 12, right, looks at her brother Shahid-ul, 7, lying ill on a bed inside their rented shanty on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. The children live with their mother, a rag picker, and spend their day at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle. They arrived in New Delhi, hoping to find a better life after their father abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Murshida, 12, right, looks at her brother Shahid-ul, 7, lying ill on a bed inside their rented shanty. The children live with their mother, a rag picker, and spend their day at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle. They arrived in New Delhi, hoping to find a better life after their father abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60762" align="aligncenter" width="1252"]A worker loads segregated trash for recycling on a truck. Rag picking is effectively the primary recycling system in India. While the rag pickers offer invaluable services to the city, they have few rights and are exposed to deadly poisons everyday. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) A worker loads segregated trash for recycling on a truck. Rag picking is effectively the primary recycling system in India. While the rag pickers offer invaluable services to the city, they have few rights and are exposed to deadly poisons everyday. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60764" align="aligncenter" width="1154"]Murshida, 12, helps her mother Marjina lift a sackful of trash for segregation outside their rented shanty. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri) Murshida, 12, helps her mother Marjina lift a sackful of trash for segregation outside their rented shanty. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60765" align="aligncenter" width="1116"]Marjina and her 12-year old daughter Murshida wait for a trash dealer to weigh their segregated trash. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Marjina and her 12-year old daughter Murshida wait for a trash dealer to weigh their segregated trash. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60766" align="aligncenter" width="1170"]Shahid-ul, 7, right, sits on a sack of trash as his mother Marjina, center, speaks to a neighbor outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Shahid-ul, 7, right, sits on a sack of trash as his mother Marjina, center, speaks to a neighbor outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60767" align="aligncenter" width="1122"]Murshida, 12, sits on the lap of her mother Marjina as the train leaves for their village in West Bengal, at a railway station New Delhi. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Murshida, 12, sits on the lap of her mother Marjina as the train leaves for their village in West Bengal, at a railway station New Delhi. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
  [caption id="attachment_60770" align="aligncenter" width="857"]Marjina, right, her daughter Murshida, 12, and seven-year old brother Shahid-ul make their way towards a train station. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Marjina, right, her daughter Murshida, 12, and seven-year old brother Shahid-ul make their way towards a train station. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
  [caption id="attachment_60772" align="aligncenter" width="1127"]A neighbor teasingly gives a withered bouquet of flowers, found in a bag of trash, to Marjina outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) A neighbor teasingly gives a withered bouquet of flowers, found in a bag of trash, to Marjina outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
  [caption id="attachment_60773" align="aligncenter" width="1181"]Shahid-ul, 7, sits on a sack of trash outside a shanty where he lives with his mother Marjina and sister Murshida, 12. The family spends their day at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle. They arrived in New Delhi, hoping to find a better life after their father abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Shahid-ul, 7, sits on a sack of trash outside a shanty where he lives with his mother Marjina and sister Murshida, 12. The family spends their day at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle. They arrived in New Delhi, hoping to find a better life after their father abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60774" align="aligncenter" width="1122"]Munna bhai, a trash dealer, hands over money to Marjina for trash she segregated, as her daughter Murshida eats sweet lemon on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Marjina arrived in New Delhi with her two children, hoping to find a better life after her husband abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. The family spends their day at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle, earning $26 a month. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Munna bhai, a trash dealer, hands over money to Marjina for trash she segregated, as her daughter Murshida eats sweet lemon on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Marjina arrived in New Delhi with her two children, hoping to find a better life after her husband abandoned them without so much as a goodbye. The family spends their day at a landfill picking through other people’s garbage to find salvageable bits to resell or recycle, earning $26 a month. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60775" align="aligncenter" width="1124"]Murshida, 12, daughter of rag picker Marjina, lies on a sack of trash after she fell ill, outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri Murshida, 12, daughter of rag picker Marjina, lies on a sack of trash after she fell ill, outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_60776" align="aligncenter" width="1159"]Marjina, 12, is taken to a hospital on a cart used to carry trash, outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri) Marjina, 12, is taken to a hospital on a cart used to carry trash, outside their rented shanty. (Photo: AP/Altaf Qadri)[/caption]

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