Mitar Simikić – Recycling Of Life

For more than 20 years, the Salihović family from Bosnia and Herzegovina collects and sells wasted goods. There are seven members of the family and nobody is thirsty or hungry, as they say. They approach their daily job just like to any other: they plan, organize and perform regularly. Every day the family wakes up early, takes a familiar route and meet a lot of acquaintances who are willing to help. People give them products, unwanted gifts and petite things to sell.  The Salihović family never complains.

The job is equally divided: Ahmo collects copper, iron, aluminium and plastic, while Melvida, his third wife, collects kitchen supplies, household items and wardrobe. She also goes to the market twice a week to sell these items. In one week, they might earn 100 Euros. In one month, they earn the sum of one average salary. They cover the expenses with the help of the municipality. Sometimes they receive food aid. Winters are the hardest. Then, the market is not an option. Saving copper for the winter period is a survival technique they have mastered.
This photo-series primarily was meant to investigate the life of the people on the margins, the waste collectors. The Salihović family is one of the invisible families in Bijeljina. Making them visible to the world has been the essence of this project. However, meeting the family, the focus has turned to their brightest child, who is attending school regularly and brilliantly solving problems. She is Samila, and in 2016 when this project started, she was 11. She has three sisters and one brother and the whole world ahead to make her own space in. How she will manage, remains to be seen. This project will continue up until her 18th birthday.