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Kerala man collects plastic waste from streets to raise funds to feed the hungry

Siraj S

At 6 am every day, Siraj S sets out from his house with an empty sack on his shoulder. He walks through the streets, collecting discarded plastic bottles and other items. People mistake him for a rag picker, but this 40-year-old native of Vettiyar in Alappuzha has been doing this for a noble cause to help the needy.

For the past three years, Siraj of Vettiyar in Alappuzha, Kerala, has been collecting discarded plastic waste and other items from the streets to sell as scrap and use the money to feed the poor and buy them blankets.

Siraj, who ekes out a living by making papadams, decided to take up rag picking to help the poor as he couldn’t raise enough money from his pappadam business.

“Once I collect the plastic bottles and other scrap materials from the roads for a week, I sort them and sell them to a scrap dealer. I make enough money from this to buy food, essential commodities, and blankets for the needy,” Siraj told “Open Digest“. On his return from the daily routine of rag picking, Siraj manages his modest papadam-selling business.

When asked why he engages in such a noble activity, Siraj said, “I lost my parents at the age of 15 and have worked many jobs to survive. I know what hunger is, as there were days when I didn’t even have money to buy a cup of tea. There was no one to offer me anything. So I wanted to help others according to my ability.” Siraj has suffered from a speech disorder since childhood. Siraj is helped by his wife Haseena R, 35, a housewife, and his two children, Sanha Siraj, 13, and Mohammed Shafi, 12, in his mission.

“I’ve seen people throwing away food at functions. We need to bear in mind that there are many people who can’t afford a meal in a day. My goal is to continue with my mission to provide free food and blankets to the needy. Mine is a small effort, but I will continue to do it,” he said.

Despite the physical toll and the demanding hours, Siraj remains unwavering in his commitment.

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