The Temple of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia’s northern province of Siem Reap, is the country’s most renowned attraction, drawing hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors annually. Few of these well-heeled tourists would realize that just a short drive away, some 300 people – many of them children – exist in the direst conditions imaginable, literally living in the garbage dump of Anlong Pi.
Life here is perfumed with the scent of the toxic smoke produced by the harmful chemical and biological reactions between organic and inorganic compounds. The residents spend more than ten hours each day digging through the tons of waste, searching for recyclable materials: plastic, glass, paper and – most valuable – copper. They are among the third of all Cambodians who still survive on less than a dollar a day.