Life in a Garbage Dump

Posted by Staff | May 10, 2012  |  No Comment
Decent shoes are seldom found

Today, an 11 year old boy picked through rotting garbage for 9 hours. It was a good day; he made 45 cents, enough to buy some rice. He is the sole provider for himself and his 9 year old sister who has become too sick to scavenge. Throughout the day he takes water and food to the makeshift hut where she tries to recover.

Near the capital city of Cambodia there is a gigantic garbage dump called Meanshey or “Smokey Mountain.” Hundreds of Cambodia’s desperately poor scavenge in the refuse for aluminum, glass, or anything they can sell. Corpses are common and when one is found the scavengers call out a warning to stay away from that spot. Sickness and infection are rampant especially considering there are no protocols in Cambodia for the handling of medical or industrial waste. It’s all in the dump. Most of the scavengers are adults or children whose parents scavenge along side of them.


But scattered among these are several dozen abandoned and orphaned children. Some have escaped from brothels or, due to sickness or injury, were put out of their jobs in sweat shops. They are the neediest and most at risk even among this desperate group. When it rains the entire dumpsite becomes a putrid swamp of black water and rotting trash.


Flies and mosquitoes swarm and further the spread of infection. Those who scavenge Meanshey also live in and among the trash. They wash their clothes in the standing water and prepare meals here. Vendors sell rice and meat from rodents or other dubious sources.


Meanshey is a place of indescribable suffering and sadness. Most of us know such places exist in the world, so why is this of interest to a family in Wisconsin or Georgia? What can anyone do to help these people? What does it really mean to Americans who have their own struggles and myriad needs closer at hand?

Why should we care enough to respond to the horrific plight of the scavengers of Meanshey dump? Among these desperately poor trash-pickers are children, abandoned and alone, who rank as the poorest of the poor. Among the scavengers of Meanshey most children have mothers or fathers who strive with them. But what of those who face dump-life alone? What if a team of experts—followers of Christ—had the means and expertise to rescue these children and provide for them a loving, Christ-centered home? And what if this could be done efficiently, for a nominal cost and within the legal confines of the locality? And what if all these actions were specifically commanded by the Lord in His Word? What if the outreach of God’s people could quickly and profoundly transform the lives of these children? We need not wait for the government of Cambodia to respond to this problem. Such governmental solutions are secularized anyway. We can act right now and within mere days the treasures of God are found among the refuse.

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