Waste Perspectives from Pakistan Part II: Hameed Gul, a waste picker employed in Islamabad



 In this three-part series, Solomon Khurrum (previously Director of Operations for Tearfund partner Pak Mission Society) and I share three perspectives on plastic and waste from Pakistan. In part two, we hear how a community recycling centre transformed the life of one family.

Hameed Gul is 45 year old, owns a house and lives at Ali Bakash Town, Islamabad. He has been working with the Integrated Resource Recovery Center (IRRC) for the last three years. He is married with seven children – two sons and five daughters. Both of his sons and one daughter are married. Both sons are working and support him financially. One of his daughters is studying at school.  

He segregates waste at an IRRC, a neighbourhood-based centre that collects and sorts waste from the local community. His job is to segregate organic, recyclable and rejected waste. The IRRC sells the recyclable waste. Organic waste is composted at the IRRC, then sold to market. The IRRC generates income by selling recyclable waste and compost. Any reject waste goes to the the  Capital Development Authority’s dumping site. Hameed earns 14000 rupees per month from the IRRC. Besides his salary he gets health benefits for himself and for his family from IRRC through Social Security.

Before joining the IRRC, Hameed was working as a house servant where he was responsible for cleanliness of his employer’s house. There he would work for longer hours and earning less money (only 8000 rupees per month). He received no health benefits. He had no safety measures to protect himself from diseases and infections on that job as he was not aware of them. He did not know anything about solid waste management, composting and recycling.

After joining the IRRC Hameed learned skills in waste segregation, recycling and reuse, and knowledge of composting. He has learned how to protect himself against diseases and infections. By working at the IRRC, Hameed is getting two major benefits. Firstly it has improved his socioeconomic situation by providing him with a better job, and secondly it has protected his health and local environment by managing, composting and recycling solid waste.

He shares his experience in these words:

“After joining the IRRC, my life has changed altogether. My financial situation has improved. I have learned health and hygiene practices from the IRRC which has improved my personal health and the health of family members as well. I have gained knowledge of solid waste management, composting and recycling which is very useful for me and the society in which I live. I am happy and satisfied with my life as I am playing a productive role in the society.”


Next week we’ll publish the final blog, exploring how more people like Hameed could benefit from community-based recycling.


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