Today I visited a shanty town outside of Phnom Penh, the capitol of Cambodia. Up until about 2009 the entire cities trash was dumped here, garbage and waste from over one million people. Soon, a community of thousands of families and homeless kids popped up at the dump, who picked through the trash for food, scrap metals, bottles, or anything they could sell. It's much smaller now since the dumps were spread to other locations but a shanty town still exists there and they still pick through every day, looking to earn $1 or $2 if they're lucky. The people were all warm and friendly and kind and inviting.
I was amazed how amazing the people were to me, even in such a poor, destitute place where everyone was just struggling to survive. They literally live among and on trash, but still they were smiling and happy and super friendly. The kids were awesome and ran right up to me and wanted to practice the little English they'd learned in school (when they got to go to school.) I was sure to say hello and thank you to everyone in Khmer and gave money to anyone I shot a close-up photo or video of. There are so many problems here - desperate poverty, illness with lack of medical care, sexual exploitation, corruption, and a stark history of genocide, but I was moved beyond words how much beauty and humanity and laughter exist in such a humble place.
The good news is there are a lot of NGO's (Non-govermental organizations) who are doing wonderful work to assist the people of Cambodia and try to ensure a brighter future. I'm going to be making a donation to a NGO that helps funds education for the children of Stung Meanchey, so if you're interested in helping, just email me.
And please tweet this out to help gain awareness:
Today I visited the shanty towns at the trash dumps of Stung Meanchey, Cambodia. I never expected what I found there. http://ow.ly/uxZ9Q