'Thank You Safai Sathi' Painting Competition

The 'Thank you Safai Sathi' campaign, under PRITHVI - Plastic Waste Management Programme, aims to pay gratitude to all our Safai Sathis that work for cleaner tomorrow. Safai Sathi is anyone who works towards making the environment cleaner. Safai Sathis are our waste pickers, house help, school cleaning staff, street sweepers, kabadiwalas, scrap dealers and active citizens who are working across the country in the field of waste management.
Waste Warriors Society, in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd. (HCCBPL) under their PRITHVI project, organized a painting competition under the theme of “Thank You Safai Sathi’ on 16th April 2019 at Jaswant Modern Sr. Sec. School, where they were asked to illustrate their gratitude for Safai Sathis on their drawing sheets.

The event began with high energy and enthusiasm when the teachers and students entered the venue, with their energetic minds, wearing their neat and ironed uniforms and proudly representing their schools. Walking in line, they proceeded to the event ground where they huddled together in their respective school groups, all set for the painting competition to begin.
Two of our many Safai Sathis, Ms. Pushpa Agarwal who segregates all her waste at home, and Ms. Seema who is a Green Worker with Waste Warriors, shared their experiences with waste and explained to the audience the hazards of mixed waste and the importance of waste segregation. Seema Di works at the segregation center of Waste Warriors and advised everyone to segregate their waste at source itself, and shared the difficulties that she faces, on a daily basis, when dry and wet waste is mixed and she has to segregate it with her gloves.


Scratching their heads, with curiosity and thoughtfulness, all the kids dived into their drawing sheets with ideas ranging from tangible to abstract. It was incredible how they conceptualized “Safai Sathis” from perceivable things such as cleaning and sweeping, to ideas as abstract as they could imagine and visualize.

Anurag Ramola from Class 8 (KV ONGC), drew this masterpiece where he beautifully depicted so many layers on a small piece of paper. With all his conscious efforts he illustrated the negative impact that we, as humans, are having on our Mother Earth and the actions which will definitely come back to bite us.

All the students who participated in this painting competition with great enthusiasm and concern for our environment came forward and presented their ideas illustrating different concepts and practices that we as Waste Warriors promote: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Remake, and Recycle. 75 students from 17 different schools came together to make this event a really beautiful artistic experience for everyone involved.


There was a special corner for “Best out of Waste”, a category where every school displayed a piece of upcycled work which they created out of recyclable and non-recyclable materials. In this category, two schools were awarded: Bajaj Institute Of Learning For Deaf Children, and The Doon Girls’ School.
We would like to specially mention Ms. Taru Singal who dedicated her time to translate every word and the speeches into sign language for her institute’s students. It was mesmerizing to look at her as she translated and expressed complicated terms like recycling, urbanization, segregation and many other words, both creatively and calmly.

Our team was happy to have with us the Vice Principal of Jaswant Modern School, Ms. Kanchan Seth to give the final Vote of Thanks. She began by sharing with us the heartbreaking story of why their school’s Principal was not able to attend the event.
She explained that the Safai Karmachari of their school had passed away only an hour earlier, and the Principal had to go to visit the family. She expressed that the loss not only affected her Principal but the entire school community. She explained how their school managed their waste and that on any event, every student is asked to get their own plate, glass and spoon and that they have not allowed any kind of plastic on campus for the past 3 years since they’ve been associated with Waste Warriors.

With the hope that this message reaches and is absorbed by every student and teacher who was present at the event and many others who will be reading this, we give our heartfelt gratitude to each and every person who works towards improving solid waste management in our country. We would like to appreciate everyone who is working towards making a difference: those who segregate their waste, who pick up other’s waste, who sweep our streets, empty our dustbins, or clean our floors. We are also grateful for all the active citizens who are working to raise awareness amongst their family, friends, and neighbors on the importance of managing waste, and helping us work towards a cleaner tomorrow. Thank you to all the Safai Sathis!

Written by Jaya Hariyani, WWS Project Assistant and India Fellow