Steung Meanchey Municipal Waste Dump is located in southern Phnom Penh, in a district of the same name - Steung Meanchey. It is a part of the city with low-income neighborhoods and slums. The dump itself covers about 100 acres, or almost 6 hectares. It is flanked by private property on which rubbish pickers build makeshift huts and are charged extortionate rents by landowners. Roughly 2,000 people, about 600 of which are children, live and work there.
Most of the rubbish pickers at Steung Meanchey are either from Phnom Penh or came to Phnom Penh looking for work and ended up in the slums. Many of the approximately 600 children have parents or relatives who also work on the dump and look after them. Some of them go to school, but most do not - at least not on a regular basis -, and it is safe to say that virtually none of them ever completes a primary school education. The school fees are too high and their families need them to collect rubbish to contribute to the family income. Adults earn, on average, 4000 to 5000 riels (US$1.00 to $1.25) a day; children earn on average about half that amount. A whole family working together can actually earn more money than they could in the rural village from which they originally came. (source: The Centre for Children's Happiness )
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Critiques | Translate
mpcorbett (342) 2005-08-17 5:40
In the midst of total distruction, this person seems happy to be alive. Spirit is certainly a strongth here. Great shot. Lasting image. Well done. Thanks.
dolin (15647) 2005-08-17 5:43
Very nice come back with this perfect shot.
I like all these details in this disorder.
Incredible scene in the background.
The big smile of this man is excellent, very good timing.
Great framing too.
jongky (408) 2005-08-17 5:43
Hah! I've just wrote a comment at pbase and then see your pic here!
Well, no doubt, another beautiful pic from Stung Meanchey 2005!
ngythanh (8578) 2005-08-17 5:51
Welcome... home, Maciej!
This is the picture we have been waiting for since you told us you were on your way to Phnom Penh.
The photograph and your informative note speak for themselves.
rbcy1974 (20758) 2005-08-17 5:58
This laughter is quite dramatic considering the dismal bacdrop and conditions it is happening in.
So how was your trip?
Zepi (22848) 2005-08-17 6:01
Whouahouuuuuuuuuuuu ! ! !
Superbe cette image !
J’adore ce sourire resplendissant !
Malgré le décors très lugubre !
Très beau contrastes, magnifiques composition
Très beau travail
Merci pour le partage
Luan (12971) 2005-08-17 6:20
I'm very happy to see these poor people laughting in such an horrible place. It's a beuatiful catch, you are lucky to catch such a paradoxical scene.
Very strong picture, I love it.
zig (2456) 2005-08-17 6:38
I see this shot is full of life. He's laughing and he is really lahghing, in the background looks almost chaos and that pulls reality to his laugh. Great shot.
kevinos (7385) 2005-08-17 6:58
I am left speechless by this picture. As a document of human misery and poverty it is stunning. You have recorded the conditions on this dump perfectly and you have recorded the resilience of humanity in the face of poverty. It not only works as a document as a piece of art is it also perfect. It should really win a prize, I feel. It is deeply affecting and deeply moving. Probably one of the best photographs I have even seen. . Two points is far too little to give it. Regards Kevin
avis2avis (4264) 2005-08-17 7:04
Nice to see you back on TE. And you make your comeback with a stunning shot. Excellent compo with this contrasting laughter against a grim background which looks more like a battlefield than a dumpyard. The tip of his boot is out of the frame but that is really minor when you are looking at this powerful a shot.
Can't wait to see more from your fresh travels.
stefi (1230) 2005-08-17 7:04
Great shot Maciej, rough contrast between the infernal atmosphere of the background and the laugh.
A great testimony.
The note is very interesting and makes this image more dramatic.
kaud (1840) 2005-08-17 7:05
His laughter is spontaneous.
That is the attraction of this shot.
Very good note added.
huynt (5079) 2005-08-17 7:08
In the dificulties we still meet the laught. What do you thing for this smile? Happy or acceptance pauvre. Well done
banyanman (7789) 2005-08-17 7:20
This photograph deserves a special award, Maciej. It is technically perfect, stunningly composed and just amazing that you found someone to laugh like this in the midst of so much poverty and despair. Congratulations. I am adding this to my favourites. Cheers . . . David
rowanb (864) 2005-08-17 8:17
welcome back maciek
another powerful image of photojournalism
amazing to see some happiness in such poverty and difficult conditions
technically excellent image.
are you putting together a story about the area?
faubry (35405) 2005-08-17 8:52
very amazing shot! this men is very enjoy but his life is very hard!! thanks
francine to morrow again
don_narayan (2014) 2005-08-17 9:18
great theme! this shot is wonderful. I like that it is busy in the background and your subject is laughing and taking it easay for a minute, very nice contrast. thanks for the great note as well.
flydragon (0) 2005-08-17 10:08
welcome back ;o)
i had also a lot rain in thailand
good picture u sent here rfom this
sad place, some hope with this smile
hugolef (4909) 2005-08-17 10:09
nice picture, the subject is hard, as their conditions of life could be ...
good composition, the laugh looks strange with the incredible scene on background.
Albrecht (11281) 2005-08-17 10:21
What a wonderful shot again. Perhaps a bit soft on the colours and contrast but the atmosphere is great with that laughing man there in that scenery......
Cormac (26545) 2005-08-17 11:04
Perfect moment! You caught just the right time to take this picture, with the head thrown back. The contrast between the laughter and the squalid scene is amazing - this is a very special photo. Superb!
babul (612) 2005-08-17 13:33
exelent shoot maciek well capture moment and good framing
erdna (5711) 2005-08-17 14:50
Very well captured picture Maciej. In Manila, Philippines, they have a similar but smaller dump site called Smokey Mountains. The atmosphere is the same but through the squalor of the dump the rubbish pickers still find time for some light moments of laughter like this one. Very well seen.
eleparc (24063) 2005-08-17 15:15
back to your first love i can tell...-) i love this spontaneaous shot! it does convey a lot of joy in spite of their harsh life! well done!
I am in Morrocco right now but no feel for photography. i broke my D70 body one week before leaving! I am furious! so shooting back with my old coolpix 5700 and F70 film camera.. hope to get some interesting shots though. We'll see! take care!
wishnugaruda (1305) 2005-08-17 15:17
what a contrast - the waste and this laughing boy. What a beautiful and impressing shot.
I like those photos of cambodia, this is a phascinating country, I want to tell everybody how poor it is, the bad history and the problem with the landmines. I also wrote about this here on TE.
Thanks a lot for sharing
Sabine - wishnugaruda
naxius (16685) 2005-08-17 16:36
I am glad to see you back..You missed me, I mean your photographs!
And this one is really good with a strong message..How this man can be so happy with a great smile and meanwhile doing this very hard job..
This good and informative photograph..
bnallama (3763) 2005-08-17 17:07
A very nice one Maciej... A smile to forget his misery and poverty. But on the other hand how can you be poor when you never knew how it is to have comfort and money... Sad but awakening theme... waiting for more shots. Thanks for sharing. Bala
BAKO (1689) 2005-08-17 19:51
i am waitin your great photos like this
ndb1958 (9289) 2005-08-18 0:09
what a wonterful picture. Amazing.
One of the most beautiful laughter I've seen.
Certainly a Fovorite!
CliffW (2377) 2005-08-18 1:30
Maciej, it's good to see you back with more great shots like this one. Hope you had a good trip. I can't help but admire the attitude he has. Nor can I help but admire this shot. Well done.
summersun (4978) 2005-08-18 5:23
fantastic image Maciek !
I like the contrast between the rubbish background and the spontaneous laughter, so beautiful.
luca30 (221) 2005-08-18 7:02
This is definitely a masterpiece on every aspect, colors composition, instant and meaning.
I'm amazing from this picture
Thanks for sharing
Ina (2687) 2005-08-18 11:00
Great scene... Fine pose... TFS...Ina....
pitai (3985) 2005-08-19 21:59
Nice note and a PERFECT picture!
Beautiful perspective, colors, light, and interesting subject. Just A++++++. Love it!!!!
sicily198x (2026) 2005-08-20 12:59
Great photo, you are one of my best favorite of daily-life photographer.
All I would say that all members here commented.
justa (0) 2005-08-20 14:28
ale fotka!!!!!!!!!rewelacja!!!jestem pod wrazeniem i czekam na nastepne z Cambodzy. Ale tam wszystkiego, smieci i ludzi, hmmm,i ten gosc na pierwszym planie, suuuper ujecie, bravo!!!
Ah_Thong (466) 2005-08-20 15:16
great photo... the composition and the expression is really great!
jcandeli (40) 2005-08-20 17:11
Absolutlye amazing photo. I wanted to go here when I was in cambodia but I chickened out. Next time! Beautiful smile amidst the trash and hard times. Great photo. National Geographic worhty! JP
fireflyz (2097) 2005-08-22 17:45
An image to remember! Powerful display of spirit of man. Nicely composed and captured. Thanks for sharing..
nerve (10231) 2005-08-25 4:24
nice composition Maciej. i love the way people are all over in a balanced way in the image. smoke also gives a dreamy feeling somehow..
keribar (43841) 2005-09-01 0:04
Certainly the best picture I find on TE lately, incredibly real, and perfect composition. The kind of picture that would become a poster for a movie, or a book cover. Your note is also very comprehensive. Good work indeed !
Take care - Izzet
Xalkida (11744) 2005-09-10 8:36
Excellent shot Maciej!
All this mess behind him and he's huppy! That's the spirit of life.
kourosh (2375) 2005-09-11 3:22
Superb image Maciek, I love it. This is even better than the flower in the dump picture.
hopperfan (167) 2005-09-28 13:14
zeus (1462) 2005-09-30 16:06
the picture is awesome. The way the boy is laughing, the colors and the whole environment is very interesting for a picture. Could be part of a magazine. Congratulations for this capture.
amirkah (309) 2005-10-24 10:00
very good photo !!!!
He's laughing wail surrounded with rubbish.
very well done
coco (30439) 2005-10-24 11:00
Is fantastic this photo. Technically is superb, the composition also good, the subject (that boy laughing is great and he's between poverty) is also good (and much more than interesting),... Great!.
Also I would add that that poverty and that smiles add a special meaning to the photo. And then, I love this one.
scotthosner (63) 2006-02-08 23:13
I can't tell you how incredible this photo is. It's changing my life, sir.
gabrielpat (7163) 2006-06-02 14:55
s10001in (0) 2006-08-01 18:13
Maciej , Beautiful shot.
Showing the sprit of guy..How to live the life..
Julian_K (1055) 2007-02-02 17:58
Stunning picture once again. You have captured the moment perfectly... incredible to capture laughter in such surroundings. Thanks for sharing,
mim_i (392) 2007-11-14 12:30
Very good one!!!
The expression on the face and the sharpness and all the idea!
BennyV (13546) 2012-01-12 6:20
Found this one on the opening page today. Most impressive, a very powerful image. Ode to life, in spite of everything else.
Both thumbs up from me.
onphoto (1144) 2013-09-19 9:40
TFS that photo! I can hear his laugh!
- Copyright: Maciej Dakowicz (maciekda) (19895)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2005-08-00
- Categories: Decisive Moment
- Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): maciekda - TrekEarth Portfolio, garbage dump in Phnum Pehn, The Hidden Life of Garbage /1/, Devimeuxbe's favorites on TE ( I ) [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2005-08-17 5:38
- Favorites: 25 [view]