Nontembiso Nokhilela has been collecting items to recycle since 2017. She even searches for cupboards that have been thrown away in order to recycle them.
“I leave home around 5 am every day to be the first person to get dumped cupboards, bottles, and cans,” said the 43-year-old Lusikisiki mother of five children who searches for cupboards, cans, and empty bottles to recycle.
At first, she was embarrassed to dig up rubbish because people judged her.
“I almost quit because they called me names. I was hurt, but I told myself I’m doing this for my family. No one is going to give me food for nothing,” she told Scrolla.Africa.
Nokhilela has now become a popular figure in her community with several residents keeping their bottles and cans for her to recycle.
The money she gets from the recycling company depends on the bottles, cans, and cupboards she collected.
“I work every day, even on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Sitting at home won’t bring me food,” she said.
Nokhilela makes around R700 per week, which is just about enough to feed her family. Local salon owner Zilungile Mato keeps her cans and old cupboards for Nokhilela.
“She reminds me of my mother, and I make sure that when I see someone throwing recyclables away, I keep it for her,” said Mato.
Pictured Above: Nontembiso Nokhilela walking around Lusikisiki town in Eastern Cape.