Colombo, Sri Lanka, February 2006.
The unpleasant and nauseating odour emanating from tons of reeking garbage, pierces the nostrils even when the dump is miles away. At the end of Bloemendhal Road by the side of the limited access road to the Colombo port is a gigantic, smouldering tower of garbage.
The garbage dump has become a home for thousands of squatters. Around 200 garbage collectors can be seen during daytime combing this garbage mountain. They eke out a living by scavenging waste plastic, packing materials, bottles and other materials for re-sell/recycling.
Adults are not the only ones who depend on the recyclable items to make money. A score or two of children could be seen during daytime rummaging the stacks. This is the only mode of income of many, while low income families and many of the city’s working poor do it to boost their meagre wages.
These unemployed men – the poor slum and shanty dwellers, who depend on the city’s refuse to scrape out a living are at work at dumps from morn till night. No matter how strong may be the stench of rotting garbage wafting over the area or how odious the crunch of the mud that squeezes through their toes, they must go through stinking garbage to find what they can and redeem a few rupees. The need to survive is harsher than the stench and more dreadful than possible health hazards at the garbage dumps.
USAGE RIGHTS GRANTED FOR RED CROSS RED CRESCENT INTERNAL USE ONLY.
NO EXTERNAL USE. NO REDISTRIBUTION.