For waste-pickers, Pope is their Hope

dna of mumbai

For waste-pickers, Pope is their hope

Shailendra Paranjpe @shailyaparanjpe

Addressing the audience at the World Meeting of Popular Movements held in Vatican City last week, Pope Francis drew attention to the current situation of global exclusion. The pontiff also highlighted the growing degradation of workers and their working conditions, including housing and food.

The convention was held between October 27 and 29, and was organised by Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace along with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, backed by Pope Francis.

The three-day conference saw leaders from grass root organisations of waste collectors, excluded workers, migrants, informal and young people’s groups, landless farmers, inhabitants of urban informal settlements and marginalized areas.

While addressing the concluding session, Pope Francis assured support to all the movements, saying, “The structural causes of poverty, inequality, lack of labour, land and housing, denial of social and labour rights need to be combated. We need to change the system – We must do so with courage, but also with intelligence. With tenacity, but without fanaticism. With passion, but without violence.”

Pune-based trade union of waste-pickers Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) general secretary, Laxmi Narayan informed that KKPKP was among the 150 participating organizations at the meeting.

Narayan said that it was a proud moment for them when Rebecca Kedari Thomas, a waste-picker from Pune told the convention in her native language, “We are not begging, but demanding our right.”

Narayan also informed that the convention was structured to view and discuss ways of social inclusion by reflecting on organisational experiences of popular movements of the most disadvantaged across the world.

Thomas shared her struggles as a waste-picker and how she transformed from a waste-picker to a service provider. The audience was moved to hear the challenges in the formation of KKPKP through her lens, as well as about the discrimination she faced at each level.

Published Date:  Nov 03, 2014

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