One of the first people to take part in WasteAid’s initiative in Cameroon was Djoukou Tapang Julienne who’s known to most as Mama Pasto. Her story truly shows how lives can be transformed when people have access to the right opportunity, support and tools.
When WasteAid first met the 49-year-old mother of five she was working as a “Buy and Sellam” selling bread loaded with boiled and seasoned beans, after losing her job as fund collector at a savings and credit union following an accident.
As age began to catch up with her, Mama Pasto decided that she needed another way to support her family. Now, after receiving support from WasteAid, she runs her own informal cooperative of pickers, and provides training to others in the community to ensure she leaves a lasting legacy.
Mama Pasto initially took part in a training course delivered by WasteAid, to learn how to manufacture paving tiles but after realising that she didn’t have the space or time to make the tiles she joined the charity’s programme to become a waste collector.
The WasteAid training scheme taught her collection techniques and how to manufacture paving tiles. From there Mama Pasto was given a paid internship with a local waste collection company where she collected waste from rivers and businesses. These two experiences gave her the skills and confidence she needed to become an independent collector with an income that has allowed her to support her family.
“Thanks to the training I received, this is the first year that none of my children have had to be taken out of school – I’ve been able to pay all the school fees for the whole year,” she said.
Collaboration and empowering communities are at the heart of WasteAid’s ethos and is a commitment that Mama Pasto is passionate about.
“Now, I’m also training others as we need to involve our peers so that the work can continue what has been started. Even if I am no longer here (I’m getting old at 49 you know!) I can say that I left a legacy and young people are working because of me.”
Her commitment to sharing the benefits of WasteAid’s programme has seen her launch her own paid summer internship for young people to help them earn money for notebooks. She is also committed to training members of her community.
“I paid them around £91 per month and my concern was just to make sure that we were all making money together. More than 23 tonnes of plastic waste have been collected and sold this year through my endeavours and my wonderful team. While we have some work to do to improve the quality of plastic being collected, it’s a good start to see people recognising the work I am doing and getting involved.”
Not only has the support Mama Pasto received allowed her to support her children’s education and others in the community but it has also given her the opportunity to earn an income that has seen her buy land and gain an additional rental income.
“I was so happy to be part of this training programme and what I’m doing now is possible because of that training. I would like to thank WasteAid for the knowledge I gained as it’s unusual to receive such training for free.” she added.
Mama Pasto’s story is inspiring people throughout her community and beyond.
As WasteAid prepares to open the waste collection and sorting facility in Bilongué 2, Mama Pasto’s story shows just what is possible.
“What makes me proud is to see that people I worked with understand the work and the necessity to work – not only for money but to help the community to cope with their waste. I love how people’s understanding and behaviour evolves when they see how the things that I have done have changed people’s lives,” she said.
Please help us to support more people like Mama Pasto to create change by donating to WasteAid today.