Worldwide, informal waste collectors (IWCs) experience discrimination, stigma, and sometimes harassment (Bulla et al., 2021). They rely on their own social networks to ply their “trade” and converse well with people with whom they have personal or business relations. Beyond this small network, IWCs do not usually need to talk to other people. Philippine-based social enterprise Project Zacchaeus (PZC) aimed to transform 60 IWCs into “Eco Warriors” in a program equipping IWCs with a variety of skills. The goal was to empower these IWCs to lead their families and communities and serve as role models to adjacent barangays. The authors explore the contrast between the mostly timid informal waste pickers and the grantee’s vision for them as leaders and effective communicators for environmental awareness. We describe the challenges in the ambitious undertaking, Caceres’s training contributions, and the gradual transformation of shy informal waste pickers into more confident, empowered Eco Warriors.

This content is only available as a PDF.