Living Among the Garbage

Ata Ranjbarzeydanloo


Iran is one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources in the Middle East, but the resources are not properly divided among the people. More than 60 per cent of Iranians are below the poverty line. Poverty has caused many people to turn to delinquency and very hard work with low income. One of the most vulnerable areas is in the northern Khorasan province region of Iran, which is also one of the largest provinces. This story looks at the poverty-stricken people of the Shoorak village.

In 2019, when I heard the story of the people of this village, which has a population of 200 people, I went to Shoorak and encountered something that I decided to tell their story, most of the village’s young people are unemployed or addicted with poor families who have gone to collect garbage to meet the needs of their lives.

Most of these people have to get recycled materials that were buried or burned by the municipality at night shortly after the garbage collectors bring the bring them to the landfill.

During the night they look for recycled materials. Their working hours are from 21:00 to 05:00. Their income after eight hours of hard work, which in winter sometimes means working in temperatures of minus 15 degrees, is less than two dollars a day.

Since 2017, when severe US sanctions began, their income has reached less than $1 for eight hours of work. Due to the lack of adequate hospital waste facilities, much-contaminated waste reaches the landfill and most of the workers continue searching for waste during the Covid-19 period. Because of their poverty, they have to continue.


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