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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Garbage Collector

by Frañkvin Bob McEwen
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We are a team of four who collect waste for private customers and for the Freetown City Council. Three days out of the week we work for individual residences and the other days for the Council. My other two colleagues are injured. The other day, the brakes failed as we were going down the hill and we somersaulted. We have protective gear but after two or three days of having them on all day, they feel heavy. ⁠

Photo Credit: Vickie Remoe

My three children and my wife live In Waterloo while I stay in the city center. Every two weeks when I have saved up enough money I go and see them. If I don’t have money I call them and we talk on the phone. Nothing much has really changed with our work since the Covid-19 crisis. Things were hard before and they are hard now. Our customers still need us to collect their waste and take them to the dump. ⁠

Depending on the size of the heap, we charge between $3.00 and $1.00. In one day we can serve up to 30, sometimes 40 residences depending on how they call us. Of course, the best part of what I do is when I get paid. I’m trying to stay busy during this pandemic no matter what because I need to work.

Credit: Essential Stories/OSIWA

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