The Dump Kids

Life, But Not as We Know It

Phnom Penh rubbish dump

Photograph courtesy Marcin Babul

The stench is overpowering: decomposing vegetable matter; burning plastic; methane. The heat is unbearable: the blazing sun beats down from above, while subterranean fires smoulder beneath ill-shod feet. a million restless flies flit ceaselessly from one dainty morsel of unspeakable filth to another, pausing to alight on the skin, eyes, lips of men, women and children picking their way over this ever-growing midden-mountain. Every few minutes a refuse lorry dumps a fresh load of garbage and immediately a swarm of scavengers compete with the flies and each other for the richest pickings: anything that can be sold for recycling; anything of any value; a cast-off, broken toy.

This is the municipal rubbish dump at Choeung Ek, just outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The dump and its surroundings are workplace, playground and home for the families who make their living from picking over tons of refuse dumped here every day and selling what they extract to provide a scanty income.

Hundreds of children know of no other existence than to spend all day, every day scavenging among the flies and the filth.

What Can We Do?

On hearing about the miserable life of the dump kids, two children in a British church asked the Director of Cambodian Communities out of Crisis the question, "What can we do to help the children of the dump?"

We passed on our young friends' question to our partners in Cambodia: what do the parents of these children desire for them above all else?

Back came the answer: Education.

Pastor Sous Sokunthea, an immigration official who leads a church located near the rubbish dump, told us that the best use of our money would be to help send some of the children of the dump to primary school.

So since the beginning of 2008 CCC has been sending funds through our long-standing and trusted partner AFCI Cambodia to Pastor Sokunthea to pay for:

  • school fees (even children in state schools in Cambodia have to pay their teacher for tuition);
  • a daily lunch;
  • two sets of clothing;
  • school stationery;
  • basic healthcare.
Children being sponsored

The 15 children whom we support

Pastor Sokunthea has selected 15 children for us to support aged between seven and 15. Our vision is to see these children removed from daily exposure to health risks and injury, attaining a reasonable standard of education, and gaining employment away from the dump.

Pastor Sokunthea makes sure that the children do not drop out of school because their parents need them to work on the rubbish dump to maintain the family income. His wife organises the preparation of the children's lunch at the church each day. Our job is to keep the funding flowing either until the children finish school or until other initiatives enable their parents to leave the dump, find alternative employment and become self-sufficient.

You Can Make a Difference

Child scavenging on the dumpChildren receiving lunchChildren eating lunch

How Can You Help?

We need more than £5,000 per year to support 15 children. More money could send more children to school.

You could sponsor a child for £7 a week. This would cover the costs for him or her to go to school and receive a nourishing lunch on each school day. We can link you with a particular child and you can have the satisfaction of knowing that your support is ensuring that he or she progresses through school and gains an opportunity to escape from the misery of the dump.

Jesus said,"Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me."

He also said,"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Go to our Giving page to find the most suitable way for you to give money to support this project.

Where to go next

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