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Photographer's Note

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Putrid Angel

Warning: Being here at the location where this photo has been shot maybe hazardous to your health, or dangerous to your life.

This is my little angel. I photographed her at the “Smoky Mountain” Municipal Waste Dump near Phnom Penh, the capitol of Cambodia — where trash fires burn and plumes of black smoke choke the air with toxic gases. Coming close to her, you would smell the putrid odor. If you move her off the site, give her a shower, change her clothes: she is an angel again with the same smile and innocent conscience.

A recent study found dangerously high levels of dioxin in the soil and large amounts of heavy metals in the metabolism of children who spend their time day after day at this location. Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical that can cause cancer. The Stung Meanchey Waste Dump is home to a large number of orphans who lost their parents to AIDS, prostitution or drug abuse. Currently, Japanese government finances for a school named Centre for Children's Happiness where 16 orphaned children who were brought from the dump now live and learn sewing, hair dressing, music, computers and English. My angel is among the thousands who are not that lucky yet. Many of their parents died of HIV or cholera during the last epidemic. Some of the kids were actually born in the village outside of the landfill and worked there since they were old enough. Please read the following passage for more info:


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The road to the landfill is lined with recycling businesses. These are the ones who pay the garbage pickers nominal fees for aluminum cans and plastics. The kids collect them in big rice sacks that they throw over their shoulders, thus their nickname - bag kids. You see them all over the city, but the big goldmine is the landfill. Local NGO workers say that around 5:00 AM - peak time - there are up to 1000 kids picking through the garbage heap. They make between fifty and seventy-five cents a day collecting recyclables.
(Source: Cambodia Landfill: Life in Hell by David Pred)




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* If you are considering some help, please visit this site: Centre for Children's Happiness.
* The title of this picture is suggested by Phan Như Phước, California.



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Paolo, pnphan, bnallama, PSYOPS, huynt, fireflyz, hispic has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 125 N: 2331] (8456)
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