Living On Landfill
On the Thai-Burma border Burmese refugees literally live off other people's garbage. In the border town of Mae Sot hundreds of Burmese families unable to return to Burma have made the town garbage dump their home. All who were interviewed spoke of how they were both safer here and better able to make a living picking through refuse than they were as farmers and labourers in Burma. Every person is needed to support the family so children begin work alongside their parents as soon as they are old enough. As a result education is a luxury that can be ill-afforded and, unless conditions improve, the children will grow up to be another generation of garbage pickers.
In 2008 Fred Stockwell, from Oregon, USA, came to the dump as a photographer. Overwhelmed by what he saw, he was unable to simply walk away with his 'stolen' images. Instead, he returned to the States, sold up everything he owned, and moved back to Mae Sot to dedicate his life to creating change for the families on the dump. His organisation, Eyes to Burma, has since radically changed the living conditions for the hundreds of people living on the dump. Clean water, housing, access to the clinic, emergency food, education, the list goes on.