David Paul Morris

Portfolio: Stories: Payatas Dumpsite, Child Labor

In Quezon City just on the outskirts of Manila, Philippines there is a local landfill called Payatas. The Payatas dumpsite is the main terminal for the solid waste collected in the city.

About 10,000 families live and work there with children working alongside adults to scavenge through the refuge looking for anything that might yield them money on the recycled market. Normally the whole family is involved in the scavenging with different members of the family working in shifts. Education for the children is organized by the owners of the dump using a four-shift scheme to provide for all the children in the area.

Only a few minutes are allowed to scavenge a load from one truck before a bulldozer comes in to cover the load to make space for a the another truck to dump. Copper, tin and aluminum are the most common items they look for. An active scavenger can sell recyclables for around 150--300 pesos a day. For a family of five that means around 1,000 pesos a day which on today’s market equals about US$ 21.

A lone worker walks with a load of trash to a recycling collecting center.
  
Working in hazy and smokey skies workers look through trash for recyclable materials. Much of the trash is burned in the same areas where people are working putting out toxic smoke.
  
A worker wears a mask on his head as he looks through the trash.
     
  
Workers wait for a truck to dump its load.
  
A young boy uses a swim mask to protect his eyes from the burning smoke while working at the Payatas. Much of the trash is burned in the same areas where people are working putting out toxic smoke.
  
Workers climb over mountains of trash as they look for recyclable goods.
     
  
A young boy with coins in his ears takes a break from working at Payatas.
  
Recylable goods in the back of a truck at the Payatas.
  
A boy and his father look through the trash for recyclable goods at the Payatas.
     
  
Workers start going through the trash before the truck can finish dumping its load at the Payatas.
  
Workers take a break from working at the Payatas.
  
A young girl swings a purse she found while working at the Payatas.
     
  
Two young boys sit in the trash as they take a break from working at the Payatas.
  
Two young boys lift barrels that are almost the same size as them as they work at the Payatas.
  
A young boy looks through some playing cards he fournd while working at the Payatas.
     
  
Young boys working at the Payatas.
  
A truck with a license plate shows that the people working at the Payatas still have faith.
  
A young girl looks over a mountain of trash before starting her dailywork at the Payatas.
     
  
A young boy flips on a old matress as he takes a break from working at the Payatas.