Elderly cardboard collectors: Why do they take the risk?
Madam Zheng Yuan Ying, 86, was killed this morning (Nov 12) while making her way to a cardboard collection point just up the road on Marsiling Lane.
It’s a grim reminder to me that every job comes with risks.
Barely 20m away from where Madam Zheng’s body rested, three elderly women appeared unaffected that one of their own had been struck down.
In the heat, they pushed their carts gingerly along the same road hoping that motorists would give them a wide berth.
Back in February, I participated in a social experiment to experience their way of life.
I collected 20kg of cardboard, after much sweat and very nearly tears, and walked away with only $2 for my pains – I was paid $0.10 per kg.
When seniors told me how much they earned a day, my mind automatically calculated what sort of loads they had to carry to be paid $10. Now, that’s 100kg of cardboard.
There are no clear benefits, no unions, no welfare.
What drives seniors like Madam Zheng to work beyond their golden years for a sum that’s considered a pittance by modern standards?
Read the full report in our print edition on Nov 13.
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Related report: Marsiling tragedy: Woman, 86, dies in collision with school bus