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Desperate and disgusted: India's human waste removers - 29 May 2016 19:02


[[html]]Story highlightsGanesh Shinde, 42, has been clearing human waste in Mumbai since 2007It's called manual scavenging — the removal of human waste from sites with no flush systemLife expectancy is low, with many developing asthma, skin infections and tuberculosisThe majority are Dalits — people belonging to the lowest strata of India's caste system<br><br>I normally don't dwell on what I am going to wear before I go on a shoot. It's usually something presentable, comfortable and preferably in a bright "TV" color that makes my cameraman Rajesh happy.<br><br>This time, though, I was perplexed. <br><br><img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="348" /><br><br>I was about to film a story on manual scavenging. We were going to film people who clean human excreta. Knowing I would have to get close to human waste while filming, I opted for a pair of old water-resistant hiking boots. I told Rajesh to wear old shoes too.<br><br>My feet were prepared for what lay ahead. I was not.<br><br>I did not expect to see people cleaning human waste from the roads right in the heart of Mumbai, a booming financial capital and the face of modern India.<br><br>'Night soil'<br><br>It's called manual scavenging — the removal of human waste or "night soil" from sites where there is no flush system.<br><br>Though the Indian parliament passed The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, in 1993 and reinforced the ban in 2013, private contractors hired by the municipal government continue to employ them.<br><br>Ganesh Shinde, 42, has been doing this job since 2007. "Of course I don't like it," he tells me. "But I have to feed my family."<br><br>Shinde's day begins around 6.30 a.m., seven days a week. He's a contractor who works for the city of Mumbai, earning just $5 a day. Usually, he walks to work. Shinde carries a broom, while his colleague carries a tin plate. Shinde sweeps, his partner scoops.<br><br>According to various studies, nearly 50% of India's population doesn't have access to toilets — which leaves them with no choice but to go outdoors. The situation is acute in villages. And as I found out, in cities too.<br><br>I saw child after child carrying a mug of water come to the road where we waited with Shinde. They pulled their pants down and squatted on the edge of the kerb. They did their business and walked away, leaving Shinde and his colleague with the grim task of cleaning up after them.<br><br>"Now I am used to it," Shinde says, admitting he found it hard when he first started the job. <br><br>Dehumanizing and dangerous<br><br>Another manual scavenger, Sunil Chavan, who works in a different part of Mumbai says he would throw up every day when he started working. "If I take you to the same area I guarantee you will throw up too," he says.<br><br>It's an incredibly dehumanizing and dangerous occupation. Most manual scavengers don't have appropriate equipment. Shinde has no gloves. No boots. He wears a flimsy jacket and thin cloth mask that he made himself. A pair of old sandals leave his feet covered in muck.<br><br>Those who clean gutters use bamboo sticks to clear jams, while standing in the middle of waste matter that can come as high as their chest. In some instances they must crawl through sewage. They hardly wear any protective gear. Sometimes they don't even wear a shirt.<br><br>Often, scavengers have to enter manholes too to clear blockages and it's not uncommon for them to drink a quick swig of alcohol before starting their job. "They have to numb their senses," Shinde explains. "How else can anyone bear the stench?" I know what he means. Standing next to Shinde while he worked was hard enough — the smell was repulsive and overwhelming.<br><br>Life expectancy amongst manual scavengers is low. Many develop asthma, skin infections and tuberculosis on the job. Hundreds reportedly die from the work each year. According to the Mumbai based research organization Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), 80% of the manual <a href="">cleaning equipment</a> scavengers die before they turn 60 because of health problems. TISS says in Mumbai alone, an average of 20 sewer workers die each month from accidents, suffocation or exposure to toxic gases.<br><br>Caste systems persists<br><br>Most manual scavengers are Dalits — people belonging to the lowest strata of India's caste system. They were once considered "untouchable" and were forced to live outside the village boundary. Though India's Constitution bans caste-based discrimination, Dalits are still marginalized, despite government efforts to end it. "They are the most vulnerable section of our society," explains Milind Ranade, a labor activist fighting for the rights of manual scavengers.<br><br>Though Dalits are not shunned the way they used to be, they are still discriminated against because of the work they do. Shinde says it's hard to get a cup of tea. He's often turned away from restaurants. A few small tea vendors will serve him a cup of tea provided he stands on the road and does not enter their premises. If he rides a bus, people turn away when he climbs aboard. "It's just easier if I walk home," Shinde says.<br><br>At home, we meet his family. They have a young daughter who was at school. I asked Shinde what hopes he has for his child. His wife jumps in to answer, her eyes brimming with tears. "Not this work," she tells me, "no way. <br><br>"She's going to finish school and she's going to stand on her own two feet."<br><br>Shinde nods quietly. "I had no choice," he tells me. "Perhaps it was my destiny."<br><br>India's current prime minister, Narendra Modi, hopes to change the future not just for Shinde's daughter but for millions of Indians who are forced to live with unsanitary and unhygienic conditions every day. <br><br>On October 2, he's launching a Clean India mission — a nationwide movement that aims to solve India's sanitation problems in five years. <br><br>He's the first prime minister to make cleanliness a national priority. Lets hope he delivers on this promise.<br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Meet the Crew in Charge of Cleaning Ebola Patient's Apartment - 24 May 2016 18:02


[[html]]A crew of hazardous materials experts called the "Cleaning Guys" are in charge of disinfecting the Dallas apartment where an Ebola victim was staying, they told ABC News today.<br><br>"It's not just another day on the job," company Vice President Brad Smith said.<br><br><img style="float:left;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="386" /><br><br><img style="float:left;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="302" /><br><br>"Obviously, I think anyone involved would be worried — not necessarily worried, but cautious. We've had a lot of discussions and team meetings about how we're going to attack the situation. But we run into hazardous chemicals and things that could hurt us probably more often than most," Smith said.<br><br>The company specializes in hazmat services as well as industrial and crime scene cleaning and power washing.<br><br>A sign stands near the Ivy Apartments, where the confirmed Ebola virus patient was staying, on Oct. 1, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. <br><br>Smith has a crew of six to eight people on the scene at the east Dallas apartment complex where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with the deadly disease in the U.S., had been staying, he said.<br><br>They're wearing Level B protective equipment, including fully encapsulated suits and a full face respirator with a shield. Duncan's apartment is a two-bedroom and approximately 1,000 square feet.<br><br>"We're in Phase One cleaning at this point," Smith said. "Taking personal belongings of the patient, and linens, and the bed where he was sleeping. The protocol is to obviously triple bag it and we will prepare it for transportation by another company to its final destination for disposal."<br><br>Volunteers from the Red Cross deliver blankets and other supplies to a unit at the Ivy Apartments, where the confirmed Ebola virus patient was staying, on Oct. 2, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. <br><br>The Cleaning Guys have been in contact with and receiving guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dallas County health officials and the Department of Homeland Security.<br><br>Today's cleaning, which started this morning, should take about six hours, Smith said, adding that he and his crew have not yet been briefed on what the second phase of cleaning will entail.<br><br>"We work closely with cities as hazmat responders and we have contracts with the city," he added. "We train for this type of thing. Obviously, we haven't trained for Ebola because there hasn't been a situation in Texas until now."<br><br>Volunteers from the Red Cross deliver blankets and other supplies to a unit at the Ivy Apartments, where the confirmed Ebola virus patient was staying, on Oct. 2, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. <br><br>Kasey Bonner, an administrative assistant for the Cleaning Guys, told ABC News that taking the job was a hard decision.<br><br>"It took our vice president some time to make a decision," she said. "Long and hard thinking on that one. But our team is pretty skilled."<br><br>Duncan, who is from Liberia and arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20, is in an isolation unit and his family is also being monitored, authorities said. Health officials are also tracking down about 100 other people who might have come in contact with the patient.<br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

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