The original Dhivehi article was published on Mihaaru.com website on 4th October 2017.
The following is a loose translation:
Until today, they used to beg for money on the streets, or did some office’s security job or struggled to cope without a job. Simultaneously, renting a place in Malé and trying to make ends meet. Thankfully, they have got jobs now, and are able to manage themselves.
They are the trash ladies of WAMCO, a state-owned company. When they got the waste disposal jobs, they were extremely happy. Their lives changed.
Begging for 17 years
Nazima’s husband passed away a couple of years ago. Without a job and no place to live in Malé, for the sake of children, she was forced to go and beg on the streets. She didn’t find it shameful to ask for money on the street from strangers to pay for her bills, feed her children and to provide education for them. However, she said she had no choice and begging was not something that she ever wanted to do in her life.
‘Even back then I kept saying, if I get a job I wouldn’t be on the streets near the market area like this. I did that back then out of necessity, due to my situation,’ said Nazima, who had been out on the streets begging for money for 17 years.
But now you won’t find her near the market area; you’d find her donned in a WAMCO uniform, visiting houses collecting their trash. When WAMCO announced the job opening, Nazima rushed to apply for it.
She feels that WAMCO’s job was a blessing.
‘I am very happy that I got this job. Now everything is good,’ said Nazima.
A Thalassemic child’s mother’s despair
Born in Gaafu Alifu Atoll Maamendhoo Island Shahida Wajudhee, shifted to Malé to provide the necessary care for her Thalassemic child, when the service was not available from her home island. The complaints of the mother of 3 children, who lives in a rented tiny room, are aplenty.
There had been no support from the father for the Thalassemic child and the 2 other kids. When Shahida pleaded him to find a job but he didn’t, it left her looking for ways to find money. All these times she had been supporting from the MVR 6000 security job pay.
‘Even after working for 16 hours I get MVR 6000. I pay MVR 5000 for room rent,’ said Shahida who is now divorced from her husband.
When WAMCO’s job opened, Shahida was among the first persons to apply for the job. She got the job 3 days after submitting her application. And she is now happily doing her MVR 9000 job.
‘People here are very kind. On my off day, I take my Thalassemic child to get a blood transfusion,’ said Shahida.
Because of her sick child, she had been forced to live in Malé city. But since she cannot stay without earning an income, she is now collecting garbage for the sake of her children.
Working with an aching leg
A few years ago, at a welding scene, Mariyam Ameena had an accident and severely injured her right foot ankle. After getting surgery, lifting heavy items became a difficult task.
However, for the mother of 8 children, the MVR 9000 pay job is almost like gold.
Ameena used to work in a school, looking after autistic kids. While renting a place, she earned MVR 4000.
‘Have to live in rented places. Since kids education is still not over, have to work and earn,’ said Ameena.
She feels that WAMCO is a good place to work. My colleagues are aware that I have had a foot surgery done. Therefore, they don’t let me carry the heavy waste bin. With such nice colleagues, I make waste collecting trips to houses, happily.
‘The staff and the seniors are very nice. Very compassionate,’ said Ameena.
Started throwing garbage because of disabled child
Zubaida Ali who had been working at Haa Dhaalu Atoll Neykurendhoo Island office, was also forced to relocate to Malé, because of her handicapped child. To save her child’s life she was forced to go out on the streets, but, it wasn’t something impossible for her.
When asked about her work, Zubaida responded: ‘I didn’t felt this was a dirty job. As a matter of fact, this was a step forward for us.’
The young mother goes out to do her job dressed very presentable. Whoever sees her notices that. Zubaida who prefers to stay always decent looking doesn’t let that affect her work.
‘This isn’t a dirty job. Yet, I also don’t want to look filthy. Whenever I get a break, I go back and clean up,’ said Zubaida.
The capital city Malé, where nearly 100,000 people reside, waste disposal was a foreign workers’ job. When the Maldivian company took over the job and prioritizing the jobs for Maldivians, many are now enjoying its benefits. It is a very special side of the young company, WAMCO.
Definitely, the lives of these otherwise helpless women had changed for the better.