I’ve went dumpster diving before – kind of. I went with my friends in high school to the back of Dunkin doughnuts once it was midnight. We pulled out the trash bag full of the left over daily doughnuts. It looked like an animal had already ripped a hole in the bag. We didn’t care. We laughed and took off our animal masks we wore as a disguise and ravished all the doughnuts.
It’s different when someone needs the food they’re diving for.
It is shocking and sad when at 6 am I walk down the street to buy some bananas for my breakfast and a man is searching through the pile of the trash on the side of the street. He’s picking out the crumbs in between the trash. He’s putting all these leftovers in a plastic bag before the trash is cleaned that morning from the side of the street. The dogs are standing on the trash too, looking for some breakfast. People look on as they sip their morning milk tea. [Kathmandu, Nepal. November 2015]
My housemate and I separate the plastic bottles from the trash. We leave the plastic bottles in a bag to the side of the bucket in front of our house we use as a trash can. The same old woman comes around every morning looking through everyone’s trash for these plastic bottles. We try to save her the time by separating our bottles from our trash. She picks these plastic bottles up and puts them in a big garbage bag she carries over her shoulder. She smiles at me with her toothless smile. Some days I look at my trash bucket and see that she still has used her hands to go through my trash- evidence being the cat litter and banana peels that are not in the plastic bag I had tied them up in. She went piece by piece through my trash looking for the plastic bottles she desperately needs to sell to make money.
I’m walking with my friends to go buy some fancy Martabak (a delicious thick sweet pancake with peanut butter, Oreos and chocolate sauce- that is the size of a pizza, with pizza slices !). As we’re about to get there, in the parking lot, I see a girl that is maybe 11 years old with a stick in her hand and a garbage bag over her shoulder. She is looking for plastic bottles to sell. She looks ashamed. She doesn’t smile and say hello. She scurries away past me to look for plastic bottles. Her younger sister then passes by me. She must be just six years old. It looks like a while since they’ve both had a bath. My heart broke. I can not get these girls out of my head. [Jakarta, Indonesia. February, 2016]
Perspective. I wanted to share these two vivid images with you because I want you to appreciate all that you have. We are lucky to eat, to have to a job that will pay for that food we want, to have family that supports us financially and emotionally. We are so fortunate. Smile at everyone. Be the light you want to see in the world. Empty your wallet one day to someone who really needs it. Be love. Receive love. Give and keep giving, and you will receive much more in return. There is so much more good in this world than there is bad.