Changing attitudes toward waste can transform communities
Tony Joy, 12.10.2018
DW eco@africa - Durian
Tony Joy, founder of Durian in Nigeria, tells DW about the battle she is waging against waste in rural communities. It's an uphill fight with surprising results.
I believe two things — that there is no such thing as waste and that no one should be treated like waste. My journey to realizing this has been very personal. I grew up in Ilorin, in north-central Nigeria. I lost my father when I was 12 and entered a very dark phase in my life. People told me I was useless, that I couldn't do anything with my life. I fell into poverty and then went through very severe depression for a long time.
At 16, I left home and had persistent low self-esteem. A voice in my head told me that I was worthless. Then somehow, slowly, I started to engage with my environment again. I moved to Ille-Ife in southwest Nigeria and started noticing that there were a lot of people out there like me: people that are marginalized and feel like no one cares about them. I started working with an NGO and it was then I started to understand what happens in rural communities in Nigeria. I met people that felt like they were on the edge of the world, they didn't have access to education, health care or livelihoods.
DW eco@africa - Durian - The Durian community centers are made from plastic bottles and tires
They also had big problems with waste management and often they would burn their waste. I thought, what if we could use a problem to solve a problem? That's why I decided to start up my organization Durian. We work to empower local communities to be self-sufficient by transforming their local waste into a means of a livelihood. We ask what types of waste people are dealing with and develop projects from there. We are currently focusing on a particular community called Imafon in Ondo state, Nigeria. In Imafon we have community training centers built out of plastic bottles and tires. We have workshops where people use old tires to make sandals for school children and one that turns bamboo into products that can be sold. We want to replicate this model around the country.
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