Some youths in Bloemfontein, who are struggling to make a living, have become waste collectors to survive. Many are from poor backgrounds, while others were orphaned early in life. They currently survive by collecting recyclable waste material to sell.

Young people in Bloemfontein collect waste to make ends meet:

Local dumping sites have become their home. The biggest dumpsites in Bloemfontein are now home to many, who live there to eke out a living.

It’s now a home away from home for the less privileged youngsters. From an early age, Eddie van Schalkwyk used to visit the dumpsite with his now late parents, to scavenge for a living.

Van Schalkwyk, a father of a six-year-old girl, says life has not been easy since losing his parents. He says everyone at the dumpsite is fighting for survival.

“They fed me with this dumping, so that’s why they couldn’t take me to school; that’s why they took me here to feed myself. That is why today I’m here. So I never knew government, only when I was 18 I knew that I must vote even though I didn’t know for what reason.”

Despite the squalor and unhygienic conditions on the dumpsite, Van Schalkwyk,  says there is no alternative but to continue scavenging for a living.

“I’m not safe at all. Everybody knows that nobody is safe but I cannot stay at home and eat nothing. I have a little girl, she must eat. I can suffer myself, but she must be safe. I can suffer, I don’t care about that. But my girl must go to crèche and eat and  that’s what I’m fighting for.”

The dumpsite helps many put food on the table. With no adherence to COVID-19 regulations, some say the place is their only solace to generate some income.

“I make a living by collecting bottles and selling them. And without these bottles, I wouldn’t be able to buy something to eat. Without the bottles, I would suffer. For me it’s safe here, there’s nothing bad here. We work, there’s nothing disturbing us.”

With the inclement weather conditions, they continue to battle to support themselves against all odds.