About the pictures

The first time I went to the dump, my legs were shaking, I was shocked to see all these kids running in the middle of the garbage as many of them do not have proper footwear. Some have flip flops and others go bare feet. the place is constantly moving and smoking, it is a garbage mountain, the place is usually nicknamed as the « Smokey mountain » because of the burning methane gas which is emitted during the decomposition process of the garbage. Bad coughs are common and many of the workers complain of headaches and dizziness and other respiratory problems. Stung Meanchey is the only dump in Phnom Penh. The dump was started over 40 years ago and is operated in an unregulated manner. The dump is located in an industrial neighborhood on the southwestern outskirts of Phnom Penh. Many tourists pass through it on their way to visit the Killing Fields Memorial unaware of the events which take place just a few hundred meters off the main road. The dump almost covers 7 hectares, the height of the pilled garbage easily reaches 10 meters in some places. It is said that there are over 2000 scavengers who live and sporadically work at the dump site, there are about 500 people a day working in the garbage. Roughly 400 trucks a day come at the dump in order to dump the city’s garbage. Over 900 tons of garbage is dumped each day. As soon as a truck arrives, the pickers run behind it in order to get the best spot in order to collect the most valuable garbage being dumped from the truck’s belly. It happened that kids were injured by the trucks as they were focused on their duty instead of the truck’s movement. Garbage pickers pick all things that can be sold. Most of the workers come from the country side and have a poor literacy, they seek a better job in the city and eventually end up at the dump because of the lack of other opportunities for them. Many of them work with all the family members, husband, wife and children. Most of the children don’t go to school because they have to make money in order to support the family. A family can earn 3000 riels to 4000riel ($1US) for a full day of work. The money will be used for the daily expenses, essentially to buy rice and vegetables and to pay the rent of the “house” to the landlord. A family can easily count 6 to 8 members.