Clean Hands Initiative is non-profit social venture led by young changemakers from New Delhi NCR, India. 21-year-old Suhasini Vira founded the initiative after she spent 2 years researching and interviewing street vendors and informal workers in outdoor markets. She heard stories of hardship, hope and resilience. She realised that we take these workers for granted and seldom stop to think about the precariousness and difficulties that characterise their daily lives.
India’s street vendors and market workers play a crucial role in feeding the nation. It is because of them that we are able to keep our supply chains running. Yet they are the ones who are the most neglected and at risk. Often lacking fixed contracts, regular salaries and social safety nets, these workers are forced to return to work even during the pandemic if they want to earn a living.
One of the biggest challenges faced by such workers is the lack of basic amenities, such as handwash facilities, at their place of work. The workers that Suhasini spoke to said that they often had to beg nearby offices for water or walk long distances to fetch water. This is particularly problematic for women, who face harassment or violence on their long journeys to collect buckets of water.
The lack of handwash facilities becomes even more problematic during the pandemic, given that these workers work in crowded markets and interact with thousands of customers a day. Without proper provisions, the lives and livelihoods of these workers are at risk.
Clean Hands Initiative emerged out of a desire to keep India’s street vendors, reddiwallahs, outdoor market workers safe. In doing so, we improve the street market experience for both the workers and the customers by making street vending cleaner, safer, and more hygienic for all.