Babu is a Bangladeshi cleaner who works hard to keep Kuwait’s streets clean. To supplement his meager salary, he collects recyclable trash to sell, and washes cars as well. Babu came to Kuwait two years ago, and claims to be happy.

“This is my life. I applied for a cleaner’s job, and so I am doing this. I am assigned to clean the streets from Sheraton Hotel to the General Post Office (in Kuwait City). The area is busy – my day starts at 10pm and ends at 5am,” Babu told Kuwait Times. When his service bus drops him off at his assigned place, he starts collecting the trash. “My supervisor monitors all of us while we work, and he is always on the go,” he said.

Kuwait relies heavily on cleaners and menial labor from Bangladesh and other impoverished Asian countries. Thousands work the streets of Kuwait. But most take only a small salary and work extra jobs on the side to supplement their income.
Babu separates plastic items, corrugated cardboard boxes, bottles and soft drink cans to sell them later. “By selling the recyclable material, I can earn a dinar or two by the end of the day. Cardboard boxes are bought for 30 fils per kilogram, and tin cans for 50 fils a kilo,” he said.

Babu told Kuwait Times he is preparing for a family life before returning to Dhaka, and is planning to get married by 2018. With his savings, he thinks he will be able to start a family. “We are all here to earn money. I don’t mind doing a lowly job as long as I earn enough from it,” he reasoned.

“To survive here, you really have to work,” Babu stressed. “My salary is KD 80 only, and if I don’t clean cars (KD 50 monthly) and sell recyclable materials, I won’t be able to survive. My friends are into selling things at the Friday Market; some of them work as porters, while some sell whatever they can, like vegetables or fish, to add to their monthly income. We use part of the money to pay our bills, and the remaining is sent as savings back home,” Babu concluded.

By Ben Garcia