Our story began early during the beginning of 1980’s. The sight of children rummaging the rubbish bins of Bangalore moved us. There was inner call, to do something for them. The beginning was simple. To be engaged with them in listening to see and frequent places of their stay, understanding the vagaries of street life and responding in small little ways through our presence, words and supportive actions. This simple response, opened us to an awesome world of persons and families at the bottom of social ladder. It is the world of men, women and children surviving from picking recyclable materials waste, that has a value in terms of cash. They taught us Trash is Treasure. With the advent of waste pickers in our lives, their stories, trials, deprivation etched a lasting impact on us and we found ourselves changing.
Beyond small gestures and acts of kindness, we felt the need of enduring structures that can respond, advocate and support them in finding a place in the main stream society. Thus was born a non formal night shelter called the “Ragpickers Education and Development Society (REDS)” in 1985. Later in 1987, we formalized this visibility of waste pickers with a registered, non profit organization, “Mythri Sarva Seva Samithi”, (MSSS) to mean “Friendliness and Service to all”.
The Journey of non profit MSSS helped us to traverse many paths, to gain many insights, to specialize and develop expertise in multiple sectors that has a connect with the lives of poor and deprived communities. On that road of meeting and being exposed to the lives of very poor, we had gained a lot. Our dream, vision and mission today are shaped from ground realities we have learnt and experienced in that itinerary.
Our mascot is this photo of old lady. Her etched out face haunts us. The joy of being born in this world in one’s life time, need not have to be snuffed out with worries, crinkled lines and etched out face. At MSSS we promised ourselves never to disown the poor in whatever context we are placed. We want to become change makers and trend setters and bring in innovation in our approach to the problems of poverty alleviation and environmental protection. We seek readers like you to join, give us support, express solidarity and take on similar issues in your context.