“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
stench hit me before we rounded the corner. The fumes of rotting garbage filled
my nose and immediately made me gag.
into the warehouse, I was stunned by the sight of countless piles of garbage.
smelled so bad, I could taste it.
squatted next to six female rag pickers circling a pile of garbage and began
sorting with them. With no gloves, masks or other safety measures, we sorted
and sorted. Dry plastics. Salvageable cardboard. Things coated in unknown
four hours, I was exhausted and deflated. How could these women possibly do
this work day after day? It was backbreaking manual labor in unsanitary
I was captivated by their stories. They were the stories of sacrifice in
pursuit of a better vision for their families. While it was no surprise that
they did not enjoy their job, they found immense satisfaction in being able to
feed and educate their families. These women did, however, believe they
deserved fair treatment at work through reasonable wages and access to
the beautiful homes that the women were building through a job that left their clothes
reeking and their fingernails embedded with dirt, inspired me to imagine their
power and impact in more honorable working conditions.
with my one wild and precious life, I want to create dignified employment
opportunities for women who have a vision for a better world.
— Megha Mathur
Each year we ask our classmates a straightforward, simple question taken from the lines of a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Mary Oliver.
We share with you intimate and candid responses to this question, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Concept and photography:
Tony Deifell, MBA '02
More Portrait Project
Harvard Business SchoolDillon HouseSoldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163