Smoky Mountain Scavengers

 


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Stung Meanchey dumpsite, also known as Smoky Mountain of Cambodia, is located in an industrial neighborhood on the southwestern outskirts of Phnom Penh. Several hundred people used to scavenge through the daily refuse in search of recyclable materials. The dump recently closed and is now mostly deserted. However, there are still some children working Smoky Mountain—digging for scraps of plastic, glass and metal. At the end of the day, they haul their findings to the local recycling center to be sold. Covered with dirt and sweat, their faces show joy and accomplishment as they are rewarded for their labor, an average daily income of 2,000 Cambodian riels (50 cents). I was honored to know many of these children by name and to listen to their stories. More photos at flickr.com/ramdiboy.