Mr. Mendillioglu calls himself a recycle worker, and has a periodical in which he and his posse write about the trials and tribulations particular to their line of work.
Long an under appreciated member of every society, garbage collectors are like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, like witches with beaked noses hidden down seedy, stinky, alleyways with fog sprawling from manholes. And yet it is thanks to these civil servants that the rest of us, depending on where we live, can walk down a trash-less street. Or that the recyclable items we so thoughtlessly discard are picked up and relocated to their rightful place: the recycling center. Tired of being invisible, one man in Turkey decided to turn up the volume on what he calls “recycle workers” rights.
Mr. Ali Mendillioglu (watch a video of him here) calls himself a recycle worker, according to Hurriyet Daily, though most of us would think of him as a garbage collector.
After realizing the value of his work but feeling dispossessed of an expressive outlet, Mr. Mendillioglu decided to organize a coalition of garbage workers throughout Turkey, a group that now boasts 400 members. His facebook page, according to the paper, has over 2,000 fans.
A young 24 year old man who does it to support family.
These are people who through some unfortunate socioeconomic happenstance- unemployment, internal migration, or crime – have turned to sorting through the unseemly heaps of discarded solid waste in order to make less than $100 each week.
Not only are they poorly rewarded, but often other members of society shrink away from them, as though they were the scum of the earth.
In order to change this, Mr. Mendillioglu started a small publication that allows him and others to reclaim their voices swallowed up by their so-called lowly position. In its ninth year, the periodical can be very cathartic for its contributors.
“Most people just turn their faces away from us. It is always us, who stay out of life, the game. What we want is to become visible, noticeable and to become involved in the game just like others…,” one worker wrote.
:: image and story via Hurriyet Daily
More about trash management in the Middle East: