We look at them, we dont care a damn.
We drive past them, we dont wait for them to cross;
We pay them, but we dont treat them equally.
This is the pourakarmikas
Working for us everyday,
Regardless of their health, nor the weather that day.
They clean our surroundings,
When they don’t clean theirs.
To see them smiling, a rare occasion
To make them smile, even more a rarity
But the cost, nothing at all
Doing this, makes a world of a difference…
St. Joseph’s Indian High School,
Gopalkrishna, Engineer-in-Chief, BBMP, today flagged off the week-long ‘Pourakarmika Thank you’ celebrations, a novel concept mooted by the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA), to recognise the untiring efforts of the pourakarmikas or municipal sweepers who face the daunting task of collecting waste from every doorstep and streets.
At the event, attended by over 100 children and 30-odd pourakarmikas, the first ‘Thank You’ card was symbolically handed over to the Commissioner. Reciting poems in Kannada and English, the children showed their appreciation for the unsung heroes.
Talking about this initiative, Ms Dipa Padmakumar, Programme Coordinator, CMCA Bangalore said “Have you ever noticed your Pourakarmikas? Do you know his/her name and exchange a greeting with them? Without them we will be faced with the mammoth problems of garbage and health. We hope to sensitize our civic club children and adults to the tireless efforts of the Pourakarmikas who keep Bangalore clean and healthy. We appeal to every citizen to dispose garbage responsibly and treat the civic workers with dignity. Across our member cities, thousands of CMCA members will be thanking the municipal workers through thank you cards, felicitation ceremonies and visits to ward health offices. Join us and thank your Pourakarmika today.”
During the week starting October 09, over 3500 CMCA children from 100 civic clubs in Bangalore will visit ward health offices across the city to thank the pourakarmikas and present ‘Thank You’ cards and try and reach the message to others. Many of the pourakarmikas were moved to tears when they were presented with the ‘Thank You’ cards and vowed to work harder in keeping the city clean.
The garbage collectors cope with the indiscriminate and insensitive disposal of solid waste by apathetic and indifferent citizens and a system that does not enforce basic solid waste management initiatives like segregation of waste at source. Ill-equipped to handle soiled and hazardous waste, they are often forced to handle leaking batteries, broken bulbs and bottles, soiled waste like bandages and sanitary pads without basic equipment like gloves. Many of them are exposed to various health problems, face discrimination, low wages and ill treatment at the hands of private contractors. Working tirelessly to ensure our city is clean and yet, they even become the target of public ire and criticism.
CMCA volunteers joined the children at the flag off event.
Join the children in wishing the unsung heroes.
Here are some of the things you can do if you want to be part of this special day.
Dos & Don’ts:
1. Know your Pourakarmika. When he / she comes home to pick up garbage, exchange a greeting or smile. It will make their job much more pleasant.
2. Be responsible for your garbage. If you are disposing medicine bottles, syringes or broken glass, give it to them separately and warn them so they can avoid getting cut. Remember they are human too.
3. Reduce what you throw. Recycle what you can. Compost your wet waste and only throw what no one will take. Our city is drowning in garbage and each of us must make an effort to throw less.
4. Never litter the streets. Someone has the dirty job of picking up what you throw.
5. Never throw your garbage in drains, plots and street corners. It is illegal and insensitive.
6. Do not allow your household help to throw garbage out when they finish their housework and cooking. Wait for your door-to-door collector to come – even if it means keeping the garbage till next day. We can’t keep our houses clean and the city dirty. Our city is also our home
7. Wish a Pourakarmika and join us in celebrating Pourakarmika Day!
Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness:
Children are powerful messengers of change… It was on this premise that the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness was started in the year 2000. Started as a joint initiative of 2 civil society organisations – Public Affairs Centre and Swabhimana, CMCA began as a cycle rally in Bangalore when thousands of children cycled for a ‘clean, green and safe Bangalore’. Not wanting to stop, children and their undying enthusiasm has inspired CMCA to grow from a simple rally in 2000 to a movement with tens of thousands of students in 300 civic clubs across 5 cities in the country. Today, CMCA is an autonomous public charitable trust .present in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hubli-Dharwad, Mysore and Hosur.
CMCA seeks to nurture active citizenship and strengthen democratic values in children and youth and through them to society at large. CMCA civic tutors who are volunteers interact with children on a weekly basis. CMCA modules include – democracy, celebrating diversity, rights and responsibilities, active citizenship, local government – solid waste & water.
CMCA can be reached at email@example.com, www.cmcaindia.org and 080-25538584 ⊕
Wonderful work by the kids. I hope the adults in their families show their gratitude to these unsung heroes by producing less garbage or segregating them in their own clean homes. As a service project, many volunteer groups can come together and knit wool caps or mittens for these workers who have to work the early morning hours during chilly weather in Bangalore. How about CM pursuing this idea further with volunteer associations in the city.