Anlong Pi – Life in a Garbage Dump in Cambodia

Before moving to Thailand, I stayed in Cambodia for six months to rest for a while from constant moving around Asia. It was an opportunity for a unique cultural experience in a country I've only known for the magnificent Angkor Wat. Although I'm doing short trips to Phnom Penh and other parts of the country every once in a while I spent most of my time in Siem Reap. I stayed in a room attached to a local house owned by a very lovely Khmer family.

Most of us are familiar with the numerous smiling faces gazing serenely out from The Bayon temple, the iconic towers of centuries-old Angkor Wat and the cheerful establishments that line at Pub Street. While I was in Siem Reap, I learned that there is one site that is not known to the millions of visitor of this famous city. I am referring to Anlong Pi dump site, the main garbage dump of Siem Reap. It is located 30 km south of the town and receive tons of garbage everyday.

Anlong Pi

Many people experience the begging of the victims from the horrible past of Cambodia and the street children in Siem Reap but walking through the paths of dust and ashes in Anlong Pi where you can see the garbage of life in the city will bring you to unimaginable situations. The dump site has been a home for several families who live, work and supports each other in difficulty just to exist.

Anlong Pi

A family take a rest during the hottest hour of the day at their makeshift home in the landfill. The scavengers use hammocks as beds where they rest before continuing their search for plastic, metal and copper.

Anlong Pi

With the accumulation of rubbish over the years, scavengers search in the middle of the landfill where tonnes of waste is piled over water.

As I arrived at the dump, clouds of foul smelling smoke drifted towards me as the group of local residence who spend their days working here are still sitting under the makeshift shade waiting for the garbage truck to arrive. They were all staring at me so I greeted them and they cheerfully replied in khmer language which I don't understand.

Anlong Pi

This young lady run towards the garbage truck to search for recyclable material directly from it.

Anlong Pi Everyday life here is perfumed with the scent of the toxic smoke from the burning chemical and biological reactions between organic and inorganic compounds. Most of the locals here spend more than ten hours each day digging through the tons of waste, looking for recyclable materials or any items with value and can be sold like plastic, paper, copper, glass, etc.

Anlong Pi

Scavengers work in circles slashing trash, a dangerous process as people use picks in close proximity to each other.

Anlong Pi

A young boy scavenging with bare hands

Anlong Pi

Kids ages 8-12 are scrambling up and down the mountains of garbage. Although most of them use a wooden pole with a sharp metal hook at one end to filter the garbage, some of them do not have without shoes or rubber boots that can protect their feet from sharp objects or even bacteria.

Anlong Pi

Anlong Pi

More than 100 children work every day in Anlong Pi.

Anlong Pi

Anlong Pi

Anlong Pi

Anlong Pi

One of the boys is wearing a shirt with printed statement ironically asking 'What Happens If'?.

Thanks to one man's vision and determination who gives children and families of Anlong Pi Village hope to change their life. In January 2012, Togh Main of VDCA (Volunteer Development Children Association) who were born and grew up in this village opened The Anlong Pi Free School which is currently providing free education to 350 local children from the village whose families cannot afford to send them to state school.

Anlong Pi

VDCA Anlong Pi Free School

Anlong Pi

Although state education is officially free in Cambodia, many families cannot afford school uniforms, books, and the additional payments teachers charge for the private classes needed to pass state exams, so free schools play a vital role in underprivileged children’s education.

Anlong Pi

Children of the families living in the area of the dump site

Anlong Pi

Some students are walking ??under the heat of the sun without any foot cover.

Aside from the operational newly built school which is now under construction because it was destroyed by a recent flooding in Siem Reap, VDCA created another community project which is called 'Building Together for Cambodia' which aims to help the locals who live and work in the Dump of Anlong Pi. The main goal of this project is to provide a cleaner and healthier living environment for the people of Anlong Pi.

Anlong Pi

A local cleaning and preparing the vegetables that she found in the the dump for their lunch.

Anlong Pi

One of the scavenger found a piece of lobster while digging through the rubbish.

Anlong Pi

A young girl fitting a dress that she found while digging through rubbish.

Togh has found and bought a piece of land close to Anlung Pi Village and near to the dump. Initially, the goal is to build a small community on that land so families can live away from the dump and to provide opportunities for these people to secure a better, healthier and safer future for themselves and their families. Through the kindness and generosity of other people they were able to start this project little by little. But they are still needing help and support to fully accomplished the Building Together for Cambodia.

Anlong Pi

They already started building some few houses.

Here are the main things needed to be accomplished for this small community:

  • Build up to 8 houses;
  • Install wells and water filters;
  • Build toilets and washing areas;
  • Encourage them to use the rest of the land to grow vegetables and raise chickens;
  • Secure a boundary fence;
  • Provide support and training opportunities so families no longer need to rely on the Dump for a living.

All other needs and further developments are being consulted to the families, village elders and community leaders. Working together with villagers and the families from the rubbish dump, VDCA will provide immediate and much-needed relief for the community in the shape of safe homes away from the dangers of the dump, and work with them towards a more secure future where one day, none of them will have to risk their lives daily by working at the dump either.

Anlong Pi

A hazardous way of life.

Anlong Pi

Two kids talking with each other while resting in the middle of the dump site.

These people are working hard in appalling conditions to eke out a living. Will you help them to create a better future for them and their families? If anyone would like to donate directly to the fund, you can do so securely online at VDCA’s Virgin Money Giving web page.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Few articles have moved me like this one. Consider me your newest fan.

Speak Your Mind

*

Follow my Adventures in Facebook

'