Originally published in The Better India

After being trained by the Hasiru Dala, an organisation working towards improving the lives of waste workers, Lakshmi is all set to become Bengaluru’s first woman garbage truck driver.

Lakshmi is currently working at the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences as part of its housekeeping staff.

She will soon be driving a big truck transporting segregated waste.

The mother of three children, who started off as a rag picker, says she always wanted to learn how to drive.

“But I did not have the money to pay the fee to join a driving school. I accompanied my neighbour to Hasiru Dala. They helped me join a driving school in December. My driving licence came on December 31. It was my New Year gift,” she told The Hindu.

Lakshmi was married at a very young age and her husband turned out to be an alcoholic. Her daughter Pratibha is a a school dropout

Hasiru Dala has enrolled 15-year-old Pratibha in a tailoring course. Her sons – Dhanush (12) and Akash (10) – study in a residential school.

Lakshmi is now training to drive a one-tonne truck and is awaiting a permit to drive a commercial vehicle.

Hasiru Dala, which organises waste pickers and turn them into waste-management professionals, provides waste management services in the city. The waste workers in Bengaluru collect segregated waste and transport it to designated processing units.

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