The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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I started working as a waste picker when I was 7 years old. I would go out each morning, with my mother, brothers, cousins and neighbors, to collect recyclables from the streets to make our living.  Thanks to my family, I worked in the morning and went to school at night. Our struggle was hard. But we worked with humilty, on a path towards a more just and caring society. Without hoping for anything more than the well-being and a dignified life for the millions of poor people around the world. Under the direction of my workers’ union, comprised of more than 15 million people around the world. I have remained committed to this ethical path and I rejoice in the fact that the conditions have slowly improved, allowing us to ensure that we have bread on the table and our children are in school.

We are grateful to the Constitutional Court of Colombia and its judges, who now understand that the law can change the world. To the mayor of Bogotá and his advisors – thank you for nobly agreeing for the first time ever, to pay the recyclers, recognized as legitimate workers in the city’s sanitation program. Lastly, to the families of recyclers around the world – you have my affection and my admiration. From you I see the kindness and the honesty that we need more than anything else so that this humble trade is accepted and defended as alternative form of work and life. (note: there is a mistake in the translation around 1:40 in which she says “15 million waste pickers around the world” but the translation incorrectly says “1.5 million”)