Anupam Nath, Associated Press, India
Once school is done for the day, 10-year-old Imradul Ali rushes home to change out of his uniform so he can start his job as a scavenger in India’s remote northeast. Armed with a gunny sack, he goes to a landfill in the slums of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state. Here, he hunts through heaps of other people’s garbage, searching for plastic bottles, glass or anything salvageable he can recycle or sell. Around him, cows graze on the mountains of waste that line the site. Ali comes from a family of scavengers, or “rag pickers” — his father, mother and elder brother all earn their income through it. He started doing it over a year ago to help his family make more money. The family was hit hard last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, as they couldn’t go to the landfill and sift through garbage for things to sell. They struggled during the months-long lockdown in India, but were able to get food through the help of aid organizations.