Jaqueline of Oxfam Quebec brought us to a place nearby, where they had a hut filled with different kinds of waste: mostly plastic and glass bottles, aluminium cans, but also newspapers. Young women were sitting in front of it, eating or cleaning bottles. We waited for the woman, who would take us with her on her tour.
Celestine arrived, with a big, empty basket on her head. She was one of the “Women of the Quarter”, who come regularly to collect all bottles from the households.
Celestine walked around with her basket on her head, shouting"Bouteille!" Then she waited in front of some gates, until somebody came out with bottles, and Celestine BOUGHT them. This was our first complete twist: People come to the houses and buy waste! This specific area was rich – diplomats, embassies, villas -, so the domestic servants sold the household waste for an extra income. Later on, we saw women with bottles everywhere in town, even on our hotel on the beach.
After her tour, Celestine´s basket was well filled, and she came back to the storage. Here the bottles were cleaned and separated, and when the quantity is big enough, she would walk 3 km in the boiling heat to the big market in the center of town to sell their collected goods to her certain person.
They buy PET-bottles for 15 cfa (about 1,5 cent) each, and sell them for 25 cfa.
We went to the market – but we did it by “zemidjan”, the moped taxies, which is no option for the collecting women - they need space for their bottles. They also can´t take a car taxi, because this would be far too expensive. They have to walk.
On the market, we were introduced to the president of the association, a quite old, tough lady and nice grandma, who only talked Fon, which made communication complicated. She was elected by the women working there, but she also had to be accepted by the commission running the whole market.
We decided to come back later for an interview.