Award of Excellence
Lasse Bak Mejlvang
Every day, trucks bring tons and tons of garbage to the place, which the locals call Smokey Mountain. We are in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, a city housing over 16 million people. Smokey Mountain, a landfill site, has become home for more than 5,000 families. They have built their own houses out of planks and trash and are now trying to make a living from sorting and selling whatever they might find in the endless piles of rubbish. In spite of the tough conditions, the local population has made a daily life worth living at the landfill.
Because of the dangerous conditions of life in Smokey Mountain, the Philippine government have decided to address the problem in near future. The rumour runs that soon new residential areas will be constructed for the current residents. However for a lot of the citizens, that might not be the solution. Roels de Losre has been working with street children since 1989 and has been closely connected with Smokey Mountain ever since. He explains: "It's a mental thing for a lot of the residents. They live by really simple values. If they earn 200 pesos one day, well, then they have a clean conscience if they can get something to eat, sleep a little and forget about their worries for a little while. If they also have to think about rent, electricity and water bills and a lot of other stuff, things will go wrong for them. We have to remember, that they are living from day to day out here."