Recicladores change agents of Peru
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 53 seconds.
On a little bottle of bubble gum tasting and absolutely infamous Inca Kola in Cusco, Peru
Piece by piece in every way
One thing that always meets my eye is the amounts of trash that pile of next to the road, in the suburbs or even in the city centers. Whereas at home that trash seems to be more of an annoyance than something you need to be worried about. In other places in the world trash is like poison polluting the rivers that are needed for the communities. Green plains for kids to play turn into horrifying waste dumps that smell all the way to the houses of families.
I actually don’t feel like putting some horrifying pictures here. I hope everybody has a picture in mind. Now imagine… Is there any way to stop this chaos? Or is there even a way to turn this situation into something good? Well, I had the chance to speak to a person that loves every breath of life. With her positive attitude and take-action mindset she transformed millions of lives, changed national law and made Peru (not only Peru) a better place for everyone.
Creating sustainable incomes
What Albina Ruiz did is to give thousands of waste pickers (recicladores) all over Latin America a purpose, pride, income and dignity. As founder of Ciudad Saludable she is the number one reason for a clean and sustainable Peru. Ciudad Saludable is a social business that recycles trash of all kinds through the waste pickers that collect and sort trash all over the country to enable professional and revenue creating recycling. In 2002, Albina officially created Ciudad Saludable after being involved into waste problem in her master and PhD work. She could not wait any longer. It was time to change something.
In 2009, Albina with the combined effort of the whole Ciudad Saludable team and other supporters was responsible for the first law in Latin America ever that legally acknowledges waste pickers and grants them social benefits. In only 7 years with ground breaking ideas and an ever strong team Ciudad Saludable did what other countries would not in 100 years. Nowadays the social business trains and supports waste pickers in 11 countries in Latin America and had significant influence on the changes that are happening in India. With over 20,000 waste pickers, Ciudad Saludable truly improves the lives of people also by paying 1.5 times the minimum salary. That salary enables parents to give their children time to go to school and also to play. Things… most of us take for granted but they are not.
One of Peru’s finest
As the only woman in her engineering degree Albina could not be bothered about what other people think. She was always keen to chase her own dreams. Through technical training and soft skills workshops she makes sure that every waste picker is equipped with the right tools to work safely and efficiently. That sounds straight forward but many waste pickers faced physical or psychological violence and are illiterate.
“Working with them made them feel healthy and good. It really changed their life.”
Ciudad Saludable is well known in Peru. There is even a master course in inclusive resource management that is taught exclusively by Ciudad Saludable personnel. Moreover, the social business empowers women to stay up for themselves. Gaining a self-created income is a huge change and can be better understood by the stories Albina shares about the impact of work at Ciudad Saludable on women.
9th February 2018, Foz de Iguazu, Brasil