Housing for the Poor

Photo Copyright: David Stewart

Here we are again this week. This time we’re sitting in a virtual yard in India across from a trash bin. Our guide for this virtual trip taken by our group, the Friday Fictioneers, is the gracious and talented author and artist, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The challenge for each of us is to write a story with no more than 100 words. It’s supposed to have a beginning, middle, end, and follow the pciture prompt provided for the week. This week’s prompt was provided by David Stewart. Thanks, David.

To read the other stories by group members, just click on the link given, then on the little blue frog in the blue box. The link for the other stories this week is as follows:


Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 100 Words


Every day she goes to a trash bin to separate things she can resell.

She takes off her cheap flip-flops and wades in, filling the large, empty bag she brings along with recyclable plastic sheets, bags, bottles, hard plastics, cloth, etc.

Competition is other rag pickers and the starving feral dogs always searching for edible garbage.

She brings her youngest child with her to keep him safe from her drunken husband. One neighbor was arrested for selling his child.

When she gets money, she has to quickly buy food before her husband steals it for drink. He often beats her.




Written Act of Kindness Award


47 thoughts on “POOR IN INDIA

  1. We should be thankful to them otherwise the solid waste would be unmanageable.

    You have done well to write about the rag pickers. I sincerely hope some NGO or international agency takes cognizance and help these people.


    • Thanks, Yarnspinnerr. We most certainly owe a lot to the rag pickers. Sadly, too many who are in a position to help just accept them as part of a way of life as though they’re invisible or machines. It’s realistically probably not going to happen that an international agency, unless they have branches here, will help as people in most countries don’t know they exist unless they’ve been to India. Then they expect the government here to help them. An NGO is more realistic. —- Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know that some NGOs are helping them but these are mostly local and short of resources. In case a major international agency steps in …. it would hasten the work that needs to be done.


    • Thanks, Rochelle. I’m glad you liked the piece. Actually, this is happening in cities in the U.S. these days although it sometimes isn’t as recognized a practive as in India. My kids shred important documents before they toss them out because there are the poor who check through the trash. Sometimes those checking aren’t poor. The term is “dumpster divers.” They look for things they need and/or they can resell. There are also the more organized methods. We lived at an apartment complex in the U.S. where people put furniture they didn’t want in the parking lot near the dumpsters, and other residents chose what they wanted. When we were in a house, if you sat something reusable at the curb, a truck came around to collect it before the city trucks took it away. I never knew who the truck belonged to. The Vietnam Vets used to give out bags you could put clothing in you didn’t want, and they’d come round later and collect it. —– Suzanne


  2. I’m in Long Beach, CA today and I was awaken at 5 am by a garbage sorter so this was a timely story for me. No one has to go through my garbage at my suburban home. Tonight I am leaving all the recyclables out so they’re easy to find. It’s good to be reminded of someone else’s harsh reality.


    • Thanks, Tracey. That’s very kind of you. As I commented to Rochelle just before this comment, it’s happening in the U.S. also. It’s just not as accepted and/or recognized a practice as in India It also has nothing to do with the caste system or social status. Probably not all “dumpster divers” in the U.S. are poor. Our kids both have shredders and shred important documents before putting them in the trash. —- Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Keith. It is a hard life. These people are among the poorest in the country. Of course, there are the poor in every country. My kids are in the U.S., and they own shredders so they can shred any unneeded documents that have personal banking information, etc. on them before they put them in the trash. —- Suzanne


    • Thanks, Vijaya. I’m glad you liked the way I wrote the story. It is a terrible reality. It happens in the U.S. and other countries also, but isn’t always as recognized and/or accepted a practice. People who are in a position to help need to do so. The poor are everywhere in the world. —– Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Randy. You’re right. As I commented to Rochelle. It is happening in different ways in the U.S. also. Our kids there know it and shred all unneeded papers with important information before throwing them in the trash. The poor are everywhere. Some people prefer to ignore it. I’m glad you liked the piece. —- Suzanne


  3. A timely piece Suzanne – I just got back from the ‘relais’ bin here in France, dumping a heap of clothes. There was a man hanging around there yesterday, beer-can in hand, and I wondered what I’d do if he were still there this morning. I suspected he’d want to take them from me, possibly to sell for more beer money, and I preferred them to go to refugees. But then, need is need, isn’t it. Who am I to sit in judgement? As your story beautifully depicts. Nice one.


    • Thanks, Sandra. I know what you mean. I have to depend that things go to the right people when I discard them. Sometimes my husband’s caregiver will take leftover food and give it to beggers here. In the U.S. a truck came around to collect reusable things put on the curb before the city trucks picked them up. Also, the Vietnam Vets used to give bags, for used clothing they could resell to used clothing stores, and pick them up later. There are also the “dumpster divers,” not always poor, who go through dumpsters looking for things they can use or resell. It’s a fact of life. —- Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Doug. You’re right. What makes me especially upset is, I read in the paper here that India is accepting “imports” of trash as if there’s not enough here as it is. The greed is insatiable. —- Suzanne


  4. This is heartbreaking in its realism. On the one hand the incredible wastefulness, on the other having no other means of survival than other people’s trash. It seems to happen everywhere, more or less severe.


    • Thanks, Gah. You’re right. It is heartbreaking, and it does happen in other countries besides India. The problem in India is that it’s accepted as a way of life, and ragpickters don’t get the benefits that city workers who collect the trash get. They need help to get more organization. There have been attempts, but more needs to be done. —- Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We regard them as poor and disposable but fail to recognise that they are providing a valuable service even if it is done for survival. I wish the whole operation would be stream-lined and organised so they can get regular jobs and better wages doing the same jobs under better conditions.


    • Thank, Dawn. I’m so pleased you liked the story. I tried to show the real picture of this life the way I’ve both seen and read about it in the newspaper here also. The part about the man selling his child was in the newspaper and was true. —— Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Amy. It is both heartbreaking and harsh. People here are so used to it that it’s shock value has worn off. It’s become a sad fact of life. Many feel sorry for those people, but feel helpless to do anything about it. I’m so pleased you liked the story. Of course, it happens in other countries also, including the U.S., but is not seen as a job in the way it is here. —— Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diana. Once in a while I write a true story or one that’s close to true. In India the rag pickers are a common sight. They choose to work rather than beg, but it’s a dangerous job. Their health is constantly at stake. They almost become invisible to people who pass by. Some are concerned, but don’t know how to make things better for them. Chances of an international NGO doing something appear remote. It’s probably one of those problems Inida will have to handle on its own. Who knows when that will happen. —– Suzanne

      Liked by 1 person

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