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Not rag picking it’s resource recovery

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To Delhi University,  from Adivaram, a village in the lap of Western Ghats in Kozhikode district of Kerala, and then to a rag picker in the streets of Coimbatore, Jabir Karat has a different story to tell all of us. A story of finding himself midst of his realizations and quest to find out solutions for the threats he saw. Dreaming is a risky business. It makes you want to do things and when you are twenty with life’s passion pulsing through your body, flowing in your mind, doing risky things seems like a wise idea. But for Jabir, dreaming with risks in mind is a brave and bold decision.

To get going outside the village and pursue a graduation in history and then masters in the same, Jabir Karat ,a 25 year old youth always did embarrass  his people around…Going allthe way to Delhi for his higher studies ,this history graduate came back surprising people around as a rag picker and an enterpriser  into waste management. He decided to come back to Kerala with a desire to eliminate at least a few of the social problems in his native land.

After his Delhi experience, Jabir received a Gandhi fellowship which helped him to come down and work among the slum dwellers of Mumbai .The insights this young man received working in the slums and his two years of experiences working for Unicef in Mumbai shifted his area of work and the need to start initiatives in the field of waste management. Before starting his social initiative Green worms, Jabir set out to work as a rag picker in Coimbatore to have a real feel of the ground. His search in knowing more about waste management ended up at Vellore Srinivasan the project director and consultant for solid and liquid resource management in the Indian Green Service.

when you are twenty with life’s passion pulsing through your body, flowing in your mind, doing risky things seems like a wise idea. But for Jabir, dreaming with risks in mind is a brave and bold decision.

“The experience was amazing, says Karat.  In fact my days working with the bottom of society helped in realizing the waste management issues”. His works are to add dignity to all who work at the bottom as waste managers and spread concept of waste literacy among people. Green Worms which started functioning on a one-acre land at Thamarassery ,Kozhikode ;four months ago, has four people working for it, people who are from different strata of the society. “Minimize waste generation; maximize recycling; dignify people working with waste” has been the motto of the organization.JABIR (5)

The people here have a notion that the dirty work should be done only by a particular group of people in society. His works and campaigns are emphasizing to change that. His team comprises of a lecturer, a geologist, a lawyer and a psychologist at Green Worms. He started green worms as a social entrepreneurship which would help the society to resolve the issues generated from heaps of waste and also help those who work at the bottom to have a decent living. Now many organizations institutions and event organizers including marriages bureaus approach Jabir for advice and on ground assistance. They help them to conduct the programme on ‘zero waste’ method and also help them earn money by selling waste. Jabir continues to say “it is not rag picking it is resource recovery”. There is nothing called waste but only resources in various forms.

People are not ready to spend on waste management. We lack waste literacy. Most of us do not know the basic use of a dustbin. Green worms have been undertaking training and consultancy work in the area among schoolchildren, people’s representatives and other organizations for more than a year. Green Worms had taken up waste management for the State School Art Festival 2015 held in Kozhikode and was very effective in keeping the premises of the canteen clean, was another milestone for Green Worms.

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