Photographer's Note


This is another snapshot of the infamous garbage mountain Stung Meanchey in the capital of Cambodia, about 5 km southwest of Phnom Penh City Hall. And this is one of the many similar children who are performing the adult work within the toxic environment. Please read the following passages for info about it.

… 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."


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)

The International Labor Organization revealed in a recent survey that nearly 28,000 children work in household positions in Cambodia often for seven days a week and for little or no wages.

The survey found that 10 percent of children in Phnom Penh between the ages of seven and 17 work in such households. Duties include cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening, or babysitting.

Of the 27,950 children comprising this child labor force in Phnom Penh, nearly 60 percent are girls. The ILO also found that 60 percent of the children work an entire day without rest and that 57 percent of them are expected to work seven days a week.

The ILO issued a statement with the survey saying the use of children "for household work is becoming increasingly common, due to a mixture of economic and social changes and cultural factors."

About 80 percent of the child workers receive compensation in the form of food, shelter, and education, and often work in relatives' homes. However, nearly 40 percent of child laborers who attend school drop out and 14 percent remain illiterate.(Source)

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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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