The Art of Recovery: A Johannesburg Reclaimer's Story

Leslie Vryenhoek

Citation: Vryenhoek, Leslie. 2020. The Art of Recovery: A Johannesburg Reclaimer's Story. WIEGO Workers' Lives No. 11. WIEGO.

Ernestine MohloboliErnestine Mohloboli once designed jewellery for a living, but her business was stolen. Now, she earns her income by gathering and reselling waste paper and beverage containers from Johannesburg betting shops.

Ernestine has long participated in organizing reclaimers, but many of her colleagues remained resistant to joining. Then COVID-19 shut down their livelihoods and the African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) became a lifeline. Read the full story here.

Now ARO’s membership is expanding fast. “We are growing—much more than before. Now we are stronger,” she said.

By helping in concrete ways—whether delivering food parcels, sanitizer and masks or bringing recycling to a centralized location so reclaimers can work more safely—ARO has proven it can make an immediate and relevant difference in the lives of reclaimers while it continues the fight for longer-term change.

“There were people who were doubtful, who never believed much in the organization. But now they are having difficulties, they remember that…there is somebody who can help. They see they are not just alone,” Ernestine said.

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