Garbage Collectors Turn Millionaires: 11 Workers of Kerala's Haritha Karma Sena Win Rs 10 Crore Lottery Jackpot

The entire nation is in awe of these remarkable women, celebrating their well-deserved success and applauding the spirit of camaraderie that led them to prosperity.
The 11 winners of the Monsoon Bumper Lottery in Kerala's Parappanangadi municipality
The 11 winners of the Monsoon Bumper Lottery in Kerala's Parappanangadi municipality

Malappuram— Their lives had been pregnant with problems. For these dedicated women, life had been a daily struggle against poverty, where even a meager 10 rupees for a bus ride or skipping lunch due to scarcity of rice were agonizing realities.

Amidst the humdrum of their daily struggles, the winds of fortune whispered a life-changing revelation - they had won the Monsoon Bumper Lottery, a staggering sum of Rs 10 crore.

Eleven sanitation workers from Parappanangadi municipality in Malappuram district of Kerala, who had pooled money to buy a ticket of the state government's monsoon bumper lottery, were filled with happiness when they jointly won the Rs 10 crore prize last week. 

Sheeja, Parvathi, Bindu Kozhukkumal, Leela Kurulil, Rashmi Pullancheri, Karthiyayani Pattanath, Radha Mundupalathil, Kuttimalu Kurulil are the winners of the Kerala Monsoon Bumper. After deduction of all taxes, each member would get around 63 lakh rupees. The lottery ticket has been deposited with the bank. 

The 11 women are members of the Haritha Karma Sena of the municipality, which is responsible for collecting waste from households and segregating it into non- biodegradable and biodegradable categories.
The incredible women toil relentlessly, collecting garbage door to door and diligently segregating plastic and biodegradable waste in the quaint town of Parappanangadi. Their noble efforts aimed at building a better tomorrow for their families, be it whitewashing their homes, funding educational expenses, or aiding their married daughters facing financial troubles.

These unsung heroines, who are part of the Kudambashree initiative, have been dedicating themselves to making Kerala garbage-free.

The news left them in awe, as the echoes of their hard work resonated in the well-deserved triumph that was now theirs to cherish.

Didn't have money to contribute even 25 rupees 

The eleven winners are being celebrated as true symbols of determination and unity. Pooling their limited funds together, they had invested in the Rs 250 lottery ticket as a collective act of hope and faith. Their strong bond as a family within the group was evident as they shared both burdens and joys, supporting each other through thick and thin.

Two women faced a challenging predicament - they didn't even have 25 rupees to spare for a lottery ticket. So they decided to pool their resources, contributing 12.50 rupees each. One of the members Sheeja, with a mix of pride and excitement, revealed that this wasn't their first attempt at the lottery. They had bought tickets thrice before, and on one occasion, their collective effort rewarded them with a modest prize of 1000 rupees.

Radha, the one who brought the ticket, recalled the surreal moment when they first learned of their triumph, saying, "I am still in shock. It’s unbelievable. We had to check with multiple people to make sure that we won, and still we couldn’t believe it." She further shared her personal aspirations, "We all come from very poor families with lots of debt and liabilities. I myself have a debt of Rs 3 lakh which I hope to clear with the amount I get from the lottery. So, it has reached us at the right time."

There  are 30,890 HKS members in the state who collect items like plastics, footwears, clothes and e-waste from homes.
There are 30,890 HKS members in the state who collect items like plastics, footwears, clothes and e-waste from homes.

Life full of hardships

For many of these women, life had been a constant struggle with financial hardships. The dream of a better future seemed elusive as they battled debts and liabilities. Among the lucky winners was 74-year-old Karthiyayani, who had been battling illness and unable to work for the past ten months. However, on the fateful day when the women bought the lottery ticket, Karthiyayani had chose to rise above her pain and joined her comrades, contributing with unwavering hope. Little did she know that her presence would play a role in altering their destinies forever.

One of the winner Laxmi had not brought lunch on the day the results came. There was no rice in her home to cook and therefore she had no meals for the day. However, when she reached for work, she came to know of the life altering news that their lottery ticket had hit the jackpot. 

The joyous news has rippled through the nation igniting a wave of pride and admiration for the hardworking members of Haritha Karma Sena. These are extremely hard-working people who go to great lengths to make ends meet.  The women collect waste from households and engage in segregating and weighing the waste. Their monthly earnings range from Rs 8,000 to Rs 14,000, exemplifying their dedication and perseverance.

We will continue our work- say winners 

The winners are overjoyed but they are determined to continue their job as garbage collectors. "Haritha Karma Sena has been our guiding light, allowing us to actively contribute to our households and lessen the burden on our husbands in providing for the family. We owe a debt of gratitude to this remarkable initiative. Winning the bumper prize may have changed our financial situation, but our loyalty to Haritha Karma Sena remains unwavering. Even with newfound wealth, we are resolute in continuing our work, unless circumstances like reaching retirement age or facing illness intervene. For us, it's not just a job; it's a mission driven by dedication and a sense of purpose", the proud winners told the media. 

The Kudumbashree & Haritha Karma Sena

Kudumbashree, a community organization of Neighborhood Groups (NHGs) of women in Kerala, has been recognized as an effective strategy for the empowerment of women in rural as well as urban areas: bringing women together from all spheres of life to fight for their rights or for empowerment. The overall empowerment of women is closely linked to economic empowerment. Women through these NHGs work on a range of issues such as health, nutrition, agriculture, etc. besides income generation activities and seeking micro credit.

The Kudumbashree Mission work with Haritha Keralam Mission, Suchitwa Mission and Clean Kerala Company for a garbage-free Kerala. The powers to select Haritha Keralam Sena are with the local bodies. The Haritha Karma Sena collects non-biodegradable waste from houses and establishments to shredding units for recycling.  The waste is segregated into different sections based on its features. H.M White, P.P, H.M, LDPrint, Bajar, Ganny, Bulb, PVC, steel, tubes, bottle, E- waste, LD(Glucose), Bottle caps, Spray bottle etc. According to the mission, the shredded plastic is being given to the local bodies for road tarring by Clean Kerala Company.  

Each Kudumbashree worker will visit  minimum 250 houses to collect non-biodegradable waste. The collection will be based on user fee. The manufacture of environment-friendly materials, maintenance of waste disposal mechanism, organic farming, environment-friendly equipment on rent  and compost making and associated works will be taken up by Haritha Karma Sena members.

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