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Trash is Not Trash Until It Is Wasted

Carolina for Kibera's Trash is Cash Program

Many of us recycle our bottles and waste without ever seeing the tangible benefits. Although recycling is practiced far less commonly in Sub Sahara Africa, the recycling efforts of two Aid for Africa members are having profound effects on the communities they serve.

In the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, Aid for Africa member Carolina for Kibera’s Trash is Cash program employs 35 youths to collect four tons of trash each week from some 2,000 households. Because there is no formal sanitation program, the trash would be scattered in the area and lead to health and environmental problems. The trash is brought to two recycling centers. One employs 20 youth, who convert paper and sawdust into low-cost alternative fuel briquettes. The other center sorts, collects and makes pellets from plastics for sale to local industries. The program also works with local women’s groups, who turn plastic bags into retail products like purses, and with artists, who turn bones discarded from local butcheries into jewelry they sell.

Planet Aid in Botswana

Since 1997, Aid for Africa member Planet Aid has collected about 160 million pounds of donated used clothing and shoes, which would  otherwise end up in landfills, from more than13,000 drop-off bins in the United States. The items are then sold to fund international aid and development projects. In Angola, Mozambique and Malawi, for example, Planet Aid has funded teacher training programs for some 2,400 new teachers and has helped close the gap in primary school teachers. In Zambia, Planet Aid built thousands of latrines to prevent the spread of disease.  In Botswana, thousands of children left orphaned by HIV-AIDS receive educational programs, entertainment, and participate in sports through local youth clubs.

In Sub Saharan Africa, recycling programs are not just about rejuvenating waste, they are also rejuvenating lives.

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