Anlong Pi is the main garbage dump of Siem Reap. It is situated 30 km from the city and every day tons of garbage arrives. Many people experience the begging street children in Siem Reap but walking through the paths of dust and ashes in Anlong Pi will expose you to conditions almost beyond your imagination. Night and day, toxic clouds that rise from the burning waste piles surround trees and workers. People standing on rubbish piles evoke drifting souls as if they were painted by Géricault. You almost believe that salvation is close because they smile. The lucky ones may have a pair of boots to protect them as they walk amongst the junk – many don’t – but still they are smiling. Curious kids stare at adults and ask for bread, a woman speaks English to me. Some families live in this garbage dump but every sunrise hoards of workers come with the first loaded truck. The daily wage is good enough not to work in some hotels in the city. Beyond over there they can take care of their own children and breed some chickens. Their huts are falling apart, and although there is no sign of a toilet or a water pump, t he children somehow washed their hands before taking the bread we brought. Few organizations are trying to help those people but it is difficult change their minds and the way they look at the future. They can’t seem to understand that a better life is possible. In that world where Jasmine flowers cannot grow, nothing has any worth but the daily wage. Poisoned environment, rusty nails, or buzzing flies don’t bother them. At sunset, nature’s noises and sounds get mixed and the landscape turns alien. A couple of children pass by riding a bicycle and the backlight silhouettes their profiles creating a new painful image.
[words by Federica Adamoli]