The charity group IFA has given me the task of keeping in contact with Pramod Kumar, who is helping the ragpickers. I am supposed to talk to him every month, to encourage him to keep on going and to get an idea of how he is working. First I took the Metro to a place very far from the center of the city. There Pramod came to the Metro station and gave me a ride on his motorbike. After about half a mile, we drove next to this open canal. It was stinking so much, like someone poking needles in your nose. The bank of the stinking canal was littered with garbage. It went on for about three miles. By now I could not smell anything! We arrived at their slum. It was pretty far from the canal. It almost smelled good. I think the smell is a matter of relativity. Their slums were not smelling as bad as the canal.
They even pick women's hair from discarded household waste and sell it. The photo on the right shows piles of hair they have painstakingly separated from the other waste. I was told that human hair is very good for business since they sell it for good money. (Note to Kristina: Next time you use your comb and get some hair, save it, we will give it to them for recycling!)
These rags were just brought in. They will be separated by color and fabric and will be rebundled and sold. There was another room where they burn styrofoam waste. It produces a horrendous toxic smoke. The styrofoam then turns into black gooey stuff which they also sell. They collect polythene and other used bags and burn them for heat in the winter.