By Sarah Torres

July 11, 2017

Rabecca Museteka is a Zambian woman, mother of eight, and the CEO of Mabaleka Enterprises, a start-up on solid waste management. Their work involves collecting and transporting domestic, commercial, and industrial waste, providing wheel bins, street cleaning, and educating Zambians on waste management.

Last June 20 to 30, 2017, Rabecca went on an en exposure trip with the Peoples’ Solidarity and Education Tours (PSET) to learn about the Philippines’ solid waste management practices and be capable to replicate the beneficial ones in her home country.

PSET is an advocacy organization that aims to develop a sustainable people’s exchange program that will enrich knowledge and understanding of the Philippines’ socio-economic and cultural realities. They mainly host international students, professionals, or community leaders who are interested to experience authentic Filipino culture, engage in meaningful interaction with locals, build solidarity, and contribute to the betterment of the communities they will visit.

During Rabecca’s 10-day visit, PSET toured her around Payatas, Tondo, San Jose Del Monte City and San Fernando City to expose her to the situation of various public and private landfills and how this affects the health and livelihood of surrounding communities. She learned how to make bags out of weaved papers from the women of Tondo who depend on recycling to make a living. She also got to meet a mother who devotes her time collecting and segregating the trash of her neighbors to feed her family.

In one of the tours, Rabecca tells PSET how Zambia’s waste management practice lacks recycling and instead, only concentrates on collecting and transporting. But to elevate her experience from the tours, PSET invited lecturers from the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), EcoWaste Coalition, Quezon City Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department (EPWMD) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to give discussions and critical analysis on the challenges, impact, and opportunities of solid waste management.

Rabecca also met progressive leaders and lawmakers who talked about institutional efforts to strengthen waste management, prohibit waste dumping, hold corporations accountable on their solid waste, fight consumerism, and alleviate poverty in the country through implementing policies and organizing mass movements.

Rabecca’s exposure trip is a good combination of solidarity and educational tourism, which made her knowledgeable not only of the condition and practices of the country’s waste management, but also of how socio-political and eco-just should those be.

The program ended with a heritage tour in Manila and a visit to the Freedom Island. Rabecca is set to visit again together with the Mayor of Kabwe, Zambia and other civic leaders.