From the field: Waste Collection, Fresh Life StyleWaste collection is central to Sanergy’s model. As we market our Fresh Life toilets in the community, potential Fresh Life Operators are most impressed by and most skeptical of Sanergy’s guarantee to collect the waste every day, rain or shine, 365 days a year. So far, thanks to our team of Fresh Life waste collectors, our track record is spotless. Victor Omondi is one of the team members. He was born and raised in Nairobi’s informal settlements, although his family originally came from near Nyanza, Kenya. In this interview, Victor shares what it means to be a Fresh Life waste collector.
What is your typical day like?
In the morning, I come to the waste collection site, put on my uniform and get my equipment, like the wheelbarrow. Then, I go to the toilets, where I collect the waste and leave the clean containers. I bring the waste back to the site and weigh it [so that we know how much waste we can convert into fertilizer and have a strong approximation for the number of Fresh Life toilet users that day]. Then, I dump it into the compost box and mix it in. I then take the equipment and clean it completely.
Have you worked in sanitation before? What is different about Sanergy’s toilets?
Yes, I used to work for a UDDT [urine diverting dry toilet] toilet with a biodgester attached. It was big and complicated to use. It was also difficult to remove the waste without spilling. Also, Fresh Life Toilets use sawdust instead of ash [to reduce smell] – it makes a big difference! Finally, I feel more protected [because of our equipment and safety measures] than before.
When you do your work in the community, what do people think of you?
People don’t know what I am transporting. They think, because of the containers, that we are transporting water or busaa [a local alcohol]. When they do find out, they encourage me to keep up the good work. They don’t like feces in the open or in dirty toilets.
When you do your work, how do you feel about yourself?
I feel good. I know that when I leave my house, I will earn my daily bread. I see the message on Sanergy’s shirts – Be You, Be Clean, Be Fresh – and I know that I am there.