Breaking the vicious circle of scavenging

What is the Scavenger Community?

The scavenger community is known under different names in India. Bhangi, Hadi, Thotti, Mehtar, Dhanuk, Chuhra and Balmiki all share the same destiny: A life on the bottom of Indian caste hierarchy. Belonging to these communities often means a deficit of facilities and support for social mobility. Due to a lack of appropriate education and support, many children fall behind and are forced to work as scavengers.

The Scavenging Profession

MSC considers all communities, whose members are traditionally involved in the occupations of sweeping, cleaning dry-latrines, collecting scrap and removing dead animals as scavenger-communities. The inherited occupation does not halt at borders of religion. Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are also involved in the work and share the same social status like their Hindu coworkers. Even though the members of the scavenger communities do an essential work cleaning the streets and supplying important garbage and waste services, they are positioned at the lowest position of Indian society. Despite the early 1990's laws against manual-scavenging, thousands of scavengers are still coerced to do the work of removal of human waste and excreta using brooms, tin plates and baskets from dry latrines. Every year, hundreds of scavengers die because of toxic gases while entering latrines and waste-silos.

Beside the conditions and the low status, many workers also suffer from corruption and are not paid their guaranteed wages. Complaints often end up unheard and the scavengers are dependent on corrupt authorities.

Inherited occupation

Being born in a scavenger-community means to be exposed to a variety of disadvantages. While, especially in recent years, some families managed to break out of the vicious circle of scavenging, most children inherit the work and status of their parents. Economic needs and deficient education amongst the closer relatives let children drop out of school early and get engaged into the only work they know from their parents: They become scavengers. Frustration and pessimism make their way into a negative and lethargic atmosphere within the community.

Bringing Hope to the People

Movement for Scavenger community engages to turn the vicious cirlce around. Supporting local scavenger-communities where it is most effective, MSC does not only establish Community Resource Centres for compensating the lack of education amongst the community. We also encourage local leaders to engage into a positive development of their community and change the atmosphere. Engaging members of the communities to run their Community Resource Centres independently does not only secure community-oriented work, but also increases the self-confidence and capabilities of the community.

Organising training-courses and establishing Community Resource Centres includes certain expenses. MSC tries to provide as many facilities as possible for the scavenger communities. If you want to support our work and help young people all across India to live a life of equality, you can donate here.

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