Written by Laura Guanoluisa, RENAREC. Youtube.com. 03/19/2015
A comrade is one who accompanies you, works alongside you and shares with you the journey both in good and bad times. I learned to accompany others and to be a comrade from the age of five when I accompanied my grandfather to collect materials: I collected toys and he collected residue materials at the waste dumps from dawn till dusk to put food on the table. As the years went by I learned that poverty can be overcome only if the poor are united and organize themselves, so I began to bring together many comrades and we created our waste picker organization back in 2006. Many of us did not even know how to read and write, and we were seen as trash by other people and the institutions; we were seen as worthless individuals and as a social problem, as people who belonged to the lowest strata of society because we had to go through the garbage to find our recyclable materials. Many years had to pass for journey comrades to come by, committed people who extended a helping hand and helped us get organized and to believe first and foremost in ourselves, to think of ourselves as valuable people, and that we can do things, that we have knowledge. And this is how we started to see ourselves in a more confident and secure light, and in 2008, with great joy, eight organizations from several cities of the country came together and we founded the National Network of Waste Pickers of Ecuador…we learned that there were millions of waste pickers around the world and Latin America with similar realities and causes (…). Read full article (in Spanish). Video of the speech.