CAMBODIA--GARBAGE PICKERS

Jon Warren, photographer

© Jon Warren/The Photo Project

Boy jumping in front of fire. To reduce the stench in the Stung Meanchey garbage dump near Phnom Penh, scavengers set the rubbish on fire.


The Dump Life

Maryknoll Magazine
May/June 2003
Putting a lens to labor by Vincent J. Romano
First Place certificate
Catholic Press Association
June 2, 2004

To find the main dump for the city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, drive down the dirt road near the radio station in the commune of Stung Meanchey. Three siblings -- the elder boys Kayrith, 14, and Ratha, 12, and their younger sister, Minea, 10 -- and their cousin, Thavara, 11, work there as scavengers. The siblings live near the dump with their father Bo, 37, mother Sam On, 35, younger sisters Srey Yaan, 5, and Srey Yan, 4, and 10-month-old brother Sam Naang. Their home is a typical two-story, bamboo-framed shack with a corrugated tin roof, and walls of patched-together corrugated tin and scavenged materials. The children sleep on the second story, which has a floor of slatted bamboo. The parents sleep on the damp and muddy first floor, so that they can guard the flock of ducks they scoot into a pen beside the cooking platform. One day, Thavara sank in the garbage up to her neck. On another day, photographer Jon Warren, who is nearly six feet tall, stepped on a seemingly dry spot and sunk in up to his thigh.

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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