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Bridging Borders: Empowering Waste Collectors for Sustainable Change

by Shellemai Roa

The recent visit to the US Capitol was nothing short of eye-opening and transformative. Standing amidst the rich history and heritage, I couldn't help but feel a profound sense of responsibility toward our mission to amplify our impact and uplift marginalized communities, fostering a future free from poverty.

Partnering with the dedicated team at Project Zacchaeus Eco Kolek, our vision extends beyond boundaries. Drawing inspiration from the developmental strides witnessed in the United States, our aim is to implement similar strategies back home in the Philippines. Our core focus remains on improving the lives of informal waste collectors while safeguarding the environment. Empowering these unsung heroes to become leaders in sustainable waste management is at the heart of our mission.

In the picturesque City of Puerto Princesa and across the scenic Province of Palawan, combatting waste-related challenges, particularly the menace of plastic pollution, has taken center stage. The ongoing discussions at the United Nations regarding the Plastic Treaty only reinforce the global urgency to tackle these issues collectively.

The invaluable experiences gained during this journey, coupled with unwavering support from mentors in the United States and the Philippines, have emboldened us to forge ahead with our vision. Our commitment to establishing a sustainable and impactful material management system has only grown stronger.

With heartfelt gratitude for the knowledge gained through the YSEALI Philippines YSEALI Professional Fellows Program, ICMA - International City/County Management Association, American Council of Young Political Leaders, U.S. International Exchange Alumni- Philippines, USAID Philippines, US State Department, and the #CCBO initiative, we look forward to driving positive change for our communities and the environment.

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