Photographer's Note


This picture has been taken at the “Smoky Mountain”, where people suffer the stinking smell and zillions of flies. This is one of many kids who make the living by screening garbage from rotten food to toxic needles and bandages discarded by hospitals.

This is the address not included in Santa’s list. There is no Christmas tree here but non-explored mines. December 25 is not a holiday even though this is part of our planet.

Please enjoy your merry and safe holiday while you are far blessed than these miserable children.

… It is one of the saddest sights in this capital, a sprawling 100-acre garbage dump where trash fires burn and plumes of black smoke choke the air with toxic gases.

The workers here are mostly children, hundreds of them, ages 7, 10, 13 and all ages between.

Some of them, like Kong Siehar, 13, work in the dump barefoot and shirtless, combing through mounds of rubbish for tin cans, plastic bags and other recyclable goods.

"I'm looking for something good, something I can sell," the boy said one day as he poked his stick in a small mound, strewn with crushed milk cartons, detergent and condoms. "I know it's difficult work, but I want to help my family. I need to help my family."

Children toil for about 50 cents a day here at the Steung Meanchey Municipal Waste Dump. It is perilous work. The waste is soggy, and huge bulldozers rumble through here, dumping pile upon pile. The children show up at local health clinics with rashes, infections, cuts and bruises.

"This is the closest thing to hell on earth I've ever seen," said David Pred, an aid worker who is trying to assist orphans from the dump site. "I don't understand how people can allow a place like this to exist."


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 Steung 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 Steung Meanchey.(Source: Children Scavenge a Life, of Sorts, at Asian Dump by David Barboza)

If you want to view more or to give a hand, please check this album by Nile Sprague. Thank You.


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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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