Photographer's Note


Here come the children, hundreds of them, ages 7, 10, 13 and all ages between, many of them barefoot and shirtless.
This is not their playground. Instead of sitting in classroom, they come to work perilously at a place where trash fires burn and plumes of black smoke choke the air with toxic gases. They comb through mounds of rubbish for tin cans, plastic bags and other recyclable goods to toil for about 50 cents a day. They start their daily task as early as 3 a.m., when some of the first garbage trucks arrive and won’t leave before 7 in the evening when it is too dark…

Jennifer Hile of National Geographic reported:

”Knee deep in trash, Phnom Penh's poorest families struggle to build a life from what others throw away. They are scavengers, living amid mountains of garbage in Stung Meanchey, the largest trash dump in Cambodia.
Their village, Preak Torl, a cluster of plywood shacks, clings to the dump's edge. Fumes from sewage and burning garbage fill the air. Pigs forage in the village's dirt lanes.
At the dump, garbage trucks plow in and out. When they lift and tilt their basins, it rains trash. People swarm underneath, bags open, competing for the best bits of refuse—recyclables like plastic and aluminum to resell. The pay is 5,000 riel per hour, about 50 cents.
Some children as young as seven-years-old accompany their parents to the dump, becoming scavengers to help support their families.”


David Barboza of The New York Times wrote:

”Even on the hottest days of the year, when temperatures climb above 100 degrees and the air becomes nearly unbreathable, children as young as 5 can be seen sifting through the smoldering trash heaps and racing after the garbage trucks that arrive with fresh loads of refuse.
There are children who jump into the jaws of garbage trucks to fish things out before they even reach the dump site. The drivers do not seem to mind.
When a vehicle—any vehicle—crosses into the dump site, the children fling their bags of tin cans in front of the wheels, hoping to crush their cans to increase the bag space.
Many of the children here were born into impoverished families that moved to the area from the countryside after the end of Pol Pot's murderous rule.
Instead of finding urban fortunes, many of them settled in a slum that was erected along the rim of Stung Meanchey, a dump infested with flies that gravitate to the leeching refuse, the dregs of a nation.
About 10,000 people live in the slum that borders Stung Meanchey."

- More info on Stung Meanchey here.

- If you can help, please enter this door.

God Bless!


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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