Huddled together in a tarpaulin hut less than 100 sq ft in area, lives 27-year-old Durgamma and her family of five – her husband, a BBMP worker and four kids. They live in the Sajjepalaya slums, which is bereft of civic facilities like electricity, water or toilets.

Coming from an impoverished family, Durgamma could not study due to financial constraints, and instead had to start working at a young age. She got married at the age of 15 and came to Bangalore with her husband, where she started work as an informal waste picker.

Each day she made a meagre earning of Rs.200 to 250 and somehow scraped through with that. Apart from her work, she also had her children and the household to care for and this left her little time to boost her earnings or aspire for a better life.

However, Durgamma’s life changed when she attended a soft skills training programme, facilititated by CARE India. Learning the importance of education and skill development, she decided to enroll her children into school. Now, her daughters study in the first standard at the neighbouring, government-run school, while her six-year-old son is ready for admission in next academic year.

The soft skills training has opened up new avenues for financial gain, for this mother of four.

“During the training, I learnt that I can run a business and earn money from the training programme. And so, with the support of my husband, I began to sell jewellery and other ornaments. My week is divided into three days for waste picking and three days of being a businesswoman, selling my products.”

Durgamma’s business is running smoothly, with CARE India providing her with new products to sell. With the extra income, she is able to save money in a chit fund, as well as in the collective formed by CARE India.

Through hard work and an iron will, Durgamma is on a path to achieve her dream of educating her children and living a better life.

About the Programme: This is intervention undertaken by CARE India (as a part of Collective Impact) to improve the quality of life of waste pickers, implemented through a gendered and systemic approach. The programme provides alternative livelihood opportunities, and capacity and skill building trainings, in addition to assistance to facilitate a successful transition from waste picking to another vocation. The activities range from mobilisation, training on soft skills (life skills, advanced communication, digital and financial literacy, entrepreneurship development), formation of collectives and EDP support in form of raw materials, marketing and branding, developing linkages with various ecosystem actors to the budding entrepreneurs and overall monitoring and supervision.

Posted by: Thomas Paul, Program Manager

Location: Sajjepalya slum, Zone: Rajarajeshwari Nagar; District: Bangalore Urban

In 2022, for International Women’s Day (IWD), the UN has adopted the theme ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, to celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.