When messy business turns fun!

“Eeeeeeewwwww!” Is the first expression anyone would have betrayed if they had been asked to manually collect and segregate domestic waste from 400 odd houses in a slum. But 48 volunteers from CSA on Sunday decided to challenge this generalization when they trooped into the Rajendranagar slum to create awareness about the upcoming Solid Waste Management project in the locality, and to conduct a waste audit to calculate how much solid waste was being produced per day.

Armed with brooms and coir baskets, and with painted faces, Drishti, the Street Theatre team, made a lot of noise and tried to spread the word about the upcoming project, and the importance of segregating waste at a home level. They conveyed the importance of managing waste and keeping the area clean through their plays.

Meanwhile, other volunteers split into groups and went to each house, collecting garbage. They asked for the waste, weighed it, and transported it to a segregating centre. At the segregating centre, more volunteers plunged into the waste and segregated the different kinds of solids – organic, paper, plastics, and others.

Drishti members lend a helping hand in the waste auditing, when they were not putting up performances. Together, the forty five volunteers, along with a few sponsored children, and staff of CSA, they marked the beginning of Parivartana – the Solid Waste Management project being initiated by CSA in the Rajendranagar area, supported by CHF. On Sunday, they evaluated how much waste was being produced each day, so that they could start building the waste treatment and recycling units.

This project will result in the building of four waste treatment and recycling plants – three in Rajendranagar, and one in Christ College – which will be run by women from Rajendranangar. Not only will this mean that garbage will be better disposed off, but it will also mean that a few women will get a source of permanent income.

Sahas, a firm which is acting as the consultant for the project, has estimated that more than 90% of the solid waste produced could be recycled. CSA getting ready to start full-fledged awareness programmes about waste segregation, management, and the importance of the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle). MS Communication students are designing a unique awareness programme market the concept effectively and to reach out to each and every house in the slum.

Volunteers who took part in Sunday’s programme agree that it was messy at first, but they also found it to be a valuable learning experience. They realized how much waste was being produced, how many things which could be reused were being disposed, and the conditions in which the people who collected this waste worked, among other things.

“We were amazed at the amount of food being wasted! From now on, we’re going to campaign against wasting food,” Said Boishakhi, a first year volunteer, who had worked at the segregating centre of Sunday.

But the learning was also coalesced with fun. All the volunteers enjoyed working in the different groups, and got to know each other better. After the waste auditing, while having lunch, the volunteers were witnessed sharing tables with different people, chatting and laughing with volunteers other than their own friends.

On Saturday, there had been a general exposure to Rajendranagar. Around fifty volunteers went to Rajendranagar, walked through a part of the slum, and went for house visits along with the sponsored children. Most of them echoed varied thoughts about a ‘slum’ before they visited Rajendranagar, but they got an initial picture of how an area is considered to be a ‘slum’ and how they could improve, through the visit.

CSA is now looking forward to taking Parivartana forward. The official inauguration of the project will be on Saturday, the 26th of July, 2008.

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