I will be returning to Cambodia at the end of November to meet with Mey and see what has happened to the old landfill site in Stung Meanchey, visit the new site and see how the NGO, Pour Sourire D’Enfant is getting on.
Through this project I met a couple called Shaun and Clare, who are planning to set up an orphanage and help centre for children scavenging in Sihanoukville.
Clare is already in Sihanoukville and Shaun will be joining her there in January. I had heard that there was a small landfill site in Sihanoukville but I did not know whether it was inhabited or not.
Clare offered to go and check it out and assess the situation. I have just heard back from her and unfortunately her findings are rather grim:
“Ok, got there eventually. Afraid the weather was horrendous so there wasn’t too many people around and getting any pics was nearly impossible. Here’s what I found out:
32 families with 32 small buildings/shacks to house them scattered over the tip which is approximately 400m2. There are around 200 adults and 60 kids. They all have families, or at the least a mother with them. Some have lived on the tip for 10 years.
The Chinese have acquired this land for a huge electric power plant and the tip is being moved, however not sure where or when and then there’s the issue of the rubbish itself. According to the lady we were speaking to, the rubbish they have been collecting all these years is now being sold directly to a another company, who in turn owns all the plastic, glass and other materials these families are surviving on. (They usually get 300R for 1 kg plastic). The weather is also hindering their ability to earn from the rubbish as everything is sodden and nobody wants to buy, so in order to subsidise their monies they go and borrow from the local NGO Sereka Charity, who has been giving them 4kg of rice per 1 family.
They are being harassed about moving but they’re not sure who is doing the harassing or where they are expected to go.”
This is obviously incredibly bad news and very serious. Though I had not planned to do a project this time and was just filming a follow up, this situation is impossible to ignore, so I m going to try to help all the children and their families with shoes and aid. I would really like to find a doctor to come with me, but it is quite short notice.
It is really important that we film this situation so that people know this is going on, these people are not voiceless and faceless people who can be treated like this. Maybe if we can give them a voice through the project then they this harassment will not go unheard of.
If anyone reading this has a camera they can lend the project or anything to donate so that we can help, please do so, I leave in two weeks!