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Invisible Workers, Laboring in the Shadows


Millions of people around the world work in jobs that aren’t formally recognized or afforded legal protections typical of wage earning jobs. They’re often not even thought of as legitimate work.

On this edition of Making Contact, we’re going to meet people making work where there is no work for them. From recyclers, to border couriers, to waste pickers, we’re exploring the informal labor sector and what some are doing to gain greater recognition, protections, and rights.

Featuring

  • Landon Goodwin, recycler and pastor and also featured in documentary Dogtown Redemption
  • Aicha al Azzouzi border courier
  • Salma al Azzouzi, Aicha’s oldest daughter
  • Charles Gachanga Gichonge, creator of the Mustard Seed Courtyard clean-up campaign
  • Antony Makau, Dandora resident
  • Richard Munene, Dandora restaurant owner
  • Sally Roever, Urban Policy Director for Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)
  • Malati Gadgil, KKPKP

Credits

  • Host: Laura Flynn
  • Contributing Producers: Thalia Beaty, Maggy Donaldson, and Beenish Ahmed
  • Featured Music: Blue Dot Sessions: Lesser Gods of Metal, Tyrano Theme, and Pavement Hack, Tours: Enthusiast, Salomé Lego Playset: La Lutte, Comme Experience Intérieure, Janneh: Humajataritee
  • Photo Credits: Thalia Beaty and Maggy Donaldson

Show segments

An Unusual but Legal Trade: the “Mule Women” of Morocco

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We head to the Spanish enclave Ceuta bordering Morocco. The border is a gateway for a brisk trade. Moroccan markets sell goods imported from Spain at a discount for buyers. But that discount comes at a price — for the Moroccan women who bring those goods across the border…on their backs. Co-reported with Maggy Donaldson, Thalia Beaty brings us this story.

From dump site to Mustard Seed Courtyards

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There’s a neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya that doubles as the city’s main garbage dump. More than 900 tons of trash are piled into Dandora every day. It was declared full more than a decade ago, but the trucks kept coming — dropping everything from household scraps to medical waste. The waste has polluted the water, soil, and air according to the report, Trash and Tragedy by Concern Worldwide. And it has compromised the health of more than 200,000 people.

Often the trucks also dump garbage into the surrounding courtyards of residents. While an estimated 10,000 people earn money by mining the trash for recyclables, even those who work at the dump don’t want to live in a dump. Reporter Beenish Ahmed has the story of a community-driven clean-up effort in Dandora.

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