It’s been tough to be in grad school and prepare for this summer at the same time. There are so many things to do! Visa applications, plane tickets, fundraising, finding a place to live, and visiting the doctor. I got my pre-travel shots yesterday: tetanus, mmr, hepatitis b. Nearly every American has had these vaccinations, since most public schools require them of their students. With those boosters and the help of my new, anti-malarial prescription, I ought to be well-protected against the most prevalent diseases of New Delhi.
This leads me to an inevitable question: What medicines protect the New Delhi natives? Have any of the waste-pickers been immunized? Have any of them ever even visited a doctor? In a report released last October, Chintan director Bharati states that 82% of the women and children who work as wastepickers are severely anemic because of malnutrition. Most complain of fevers and nausea. Many wastepickers suffer from respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases because of constant contact with such unsanitary conditions. And for what?
“I made 200 rupees yesterday, and father made 300,” said wastepicker Amir in October, 2009. The current dollar/rupee exchange rate is about 1 to 46 right now. So for sorting through a stinking, disease-festering heap of trash for 8+ hours, Amir made a little over $4.
Let’s put that into perspective. The hostels I’m looking at for the duration of my stay in India this summer cost about 800-900 rupees/night. So let’s say that I worked as a wastepicker: I could stay in a youth hostel for one night if I worked for four days. And I haven’t even eaten anything or purchased clothing or medicine yet.
This is already blowing my mind, and I’m still in the states!
Posted By Karie Cross
Posted May 27th, 2010