Ajay and Parveen Kumar — From Delhi to Bangalore In Search of A Respectable Life

August 23, 2016
By Rang De Team

Parveen Kumar and her husband run a Dry Waste Collection Centre in south Bangalore

Have you ever migrated to a different city? Do you recall the challenges you face as you are separated from loved ones and have to fend for yourself? Not only do you need to find your own place to stay, you need to get your own source of income and learn how to get around.

Imagine the struggle that thousands of migrant workers face when they move to cities with the hope of a better livelihood only to struggle in the initial months.

With their limited savings, even getting a single meal a day is a challenge.

Ajay and Parveen Kumar came to Bangalore seven years ago. Ajay had a cooker manufacturing factory that suffered losses in Delhi and hence he decided to seek a better life in Bangalore.

As they were staying with Bengali waste-pickers, they picked up the trade as some work was better than no work with three children dependent on them.

“My husband would walk ahead with the bag and I would segregate the waste and give it to him,” Parveen told us.

“Earlier we earned daily. We would only save 2 Rs every day. Now we earn in a lump sum [at our dry waste collection centre] and have money left after paying wages.”

At Dry Waste Collection Centres, former waste-pickers stand a chance to earn a decent fixed income of around Rs 10–15k per month. Thousands of other street workers are not so lucky

Hasiru Dala, a Rang De Impact partner, actively works towards the integration of waste-pickers and advocates for their well-being in Bangalore. It was thus only natural that Hasiru Dala got in touch with the couple and helped them get a BBMP card.

“With this card, we could go collect waste during the day or night without any problems. We started attending their meetings. After a few years, they gave us this centre.”

Considering the previous operator was only able to make 20% of the turnover their centre currently makes, Ajay and Parveen have proved their managerial skills and were backed with a Rang De loan in June 2015.

It helped them collect waste from two apartment complexes and hire five labourers.

But their life remains as difficult as ever as the market is not in their favour.

“Right now, the rate for all dry waste has reduced. We get 1/4th of what we would get earlier. We don’t want to quit doing it and will continue doing it whether we earn a profit or make a loss.”

For couples like Ajay and Parveen, waste segregation is even a hidden secret they have to live with.

“Nobody in our family is aware that we are carrying on waste picking as a profession. We are doing it without them knowing.”

“We don’t want our children to get involved in this work. We want to educate them so that they can get a good job and settle down in life.”

“I hope that people respect us. I want us to have our own house and a respectable life. I want my children to have a good career.”

Ajay and Parveen work in a godown next to Paramesh and his wife who are taking their first Rang De loan this year

Respect — a value we expect to be so easily accorded to everyone but not always granted to all in practice. By reaching out to underserved communities, we hope to not just support them with affordable credit but give them the respect they deserve.

This year, we are supporting six Dry Waste Collection Centre workers who have led equally challenging lives and who need our respect and support.

Mansoor, Gowramma, Kumar, Paramesh, Kumudha and Venkatesh are all deserving of our respect as they work seven days a week and collect dry waste that goes towards reducing the mounting pile of garbage which has clogged up our cities with the spread of unchecked development.

These loans will help them do more than enhance the prospects of their business. They can go some way towards supporting and legitimising a career that thousands of migrants like Ajay and Parveen follow.

With the help of Hasiru Dala, Rang De has reached out to 190 waste entrepreneurs and serviced them with low-cost loans for their livelihoods and education loans for their children over the past two years.