Where There’s a Will, There is ASPIRE

The saying “Where there is a will, there is a way” speaks volumes about the power of determination. In Dinusha Madhushani’s case, a 33-year-old mother and marginalized resource-collector, her journey epitomizes this struggle. Despite numerous hurdles and enduring a challenging life at home, Dinusha remained steadfast in her pursuit of a better life for herself and her family, especially her 14-year-old daughter, Shaini. With unwavering determination, she asserted, “Children are worth more than anything else,” underscoring her commitment. It was this steadfast resolve that distinguished her from others facing similar adversities.

For individuals like Dinusha, the ASPIRE program offered by World Vision Lanka and funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation served as a lifeline, providing the opportunity to rewrite their realities and pursue a path toward positive change.

Finding her way with ASPIRE

ASPIRE, a collaboration between World Vision Lanka and The Coca-Cola Foundation, aims to address Sri Lanka’s waste mismanagement issues by empowering individuals to actively contribute to the recycling ecosystem. When the designated operator of the Nagoda Resource Bank, which integrates a comprehensive waste management and resource recovery process, withdrew, Reverend Fr. Linton Fernando, the Parish Priest of Nagoda, introduced Dinusha to the ASPIRE initiative. Through this initiative, Dinusha’s life took a significant turn when she took over the management of the Resource Bank, located near approximately 3,000 households. Amidst difficulties, ASPIRE had offered hope.

Reflecting on her journey, she shared, “I began my chapter as a material collector five years ago. With my husband’s experience in material collection, I wanted to support our family income by joining him in this venture. He taught me the ins and outs of the business.” Dinusha has now become an integral part of ASPIRE, independently managing the Nagoda Resource Bank, paving a path towards stability amidst adversity.

Re-writing realities

Managing the Nagoda Resource Bank poses a challenge for Dinusha as she grapples with waste mixing caused by residents’ haphazard rubbish disposal nearby. Despite her proactive measures, such as raising awareness through various community platforms and involving the Parish Priest, altering community behaviors remains an uphill battle.

Recalling the bank’s inception, Dinusha vividly remembers traversing neighborhoods to register members and collect recyclables. In the initial months, she enrolled 32 new members and gathered 81 kg of PET bottles, earning 10,333 rupees through the resource bank. However, amidst professional challenges, Dinusha also faces a deeply personal struggle as her daughter, Shaini, initially finds it difficult to understand their involvement in waste collection. Over time, Shaini’s perspective shifts, recognizing the sacrifices her parents make for her future. This transformation strengthens their bond as Shaini begins actively assisting her mother, demonstrating their resilience and unity in the face of adversity.

Despite numerous challenges, this determined mother is tirelessly reshaping her reality. Her successful takeover of the resource bank empowered her to expand material collection activities across Nagoda, Welisara, and Kandana. Despite hurdles like relying on a single collecting cart owned by her husband, Dinusha remains steadfast in improving her family’s financial situation. With the support of the ASPIRE project, her family’s income surged to 55,000 rupees, marking significant progress in breaking the cycle of poverty. Participating in an ASPIRE program in Wattala further proved pivotal, enlightening her on the importance of financial planning. Prior to this, Dinusha admitted to a lack of foresight regarding saving, despite owning a bank passbook. However, the program instilled in her a newfound determination to secure her family’s future, prompting her to embrace growth opportunities presented by the ASPIRE team.

Now, Dinusha focuses on solidifying her financial footing, recently equipped with a safety gear package and a vehicle, to enhance collection efforts. With unwavering dedication, she embodies a new success story in the making, supported wholeheartedly by the ASPIRE team.

A call to action remains

ASPIRE’s transformative impact is vividly illustrated through Dinusha’s journey, urging others to take action. Funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, ASPIRE uplifts and empowers over 60 resource collectors like her, providing tools for sustainable practices. This partnership stands as a testament to creating long-term solutions for PET plastic collectors, offering training, education, and equipment.

Dinusha’s journey serves as a compelling testament to the transformative power of initiatives like ASPIRE, but it’s just one story among many waiting to be rewritten. While organizations like World Vision Lanka take the lead, there’s a pressing need for greater support from both the public and private sectors. By joining forces, opportunities for individuals like Dinusha to break free from the cycle of poverty can be created, and charting a course towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

Together, the public and private sectors must collaborate to turn the tide and rewrite countless stories of resilience, determination, and hope.

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