This morning I presented the images to Eric Lyons I made for his charity on New Years Day. Eric is the founder of Hope for the Silent Voices, ‘a not-for-profit organization, founded to bring attention and resources to the severely neglected, disadvantaged, abused and discarded globally.’
Christmas and New Year were a little lonely for me with friends and family so far away so spending time with Eric, the wonderful HSV tour group, and surrounded by the humour and laughter of the children that his charity supports as well as the tender connections made with the community at the shoot featured here was a fitting way to welcome in 2012.
I’m really pleased with my reportage shots made at our visit to Steung Meanchey, the old mountainous rubbish dump created from the fetid rubbish that we leave outside our homes. Where the workers live, outside the brand new walls of the central tip office which is surrounded with gold tipped railings.
A friend said to me yesterday “Oh don’t do [shoot] the dump , so many have..it’s been done to death…”, when I mentioned my work. His comment indicative of the state of affairs of this now forgotten again site where children walk through inner city disease and syringe ridden water barefoot to find food, sleep in two meter square shacks seven people deep and an old women dies alone with the good will of the poorest of the locals to keep her unsoiled.
We stayed awhile at the site after the charity dispersed the food and toothpaste they had come to deliver. Dental care is a low priority for the poor here and these small bags of goods, an offering, say to the community here that they are not forgotten.
A local woman took me through flooded water, playing hop scotch on slabs of concrete, rusting oil cans, old toys to show me her home; my nikon swinging wildly as I concentrated on not loosing more camera kit and dunking myself.
I felt akin to her as I was told her story, of recent family loss, of working hard in difficult circumstances, of still smiling through grief, of still making connections and attempting faith in humans in this troubled world. She stood close and held my hand, no english at all, language unnecessary.
To be trusted by the most vulnerable in society is a deeply touching connection so often ignored and sometimes so brutally abused. I put the camera down as she put her arm around my waist and held her too as we watched the dusty sprawling site before us where she sleeps and lives, children walking half naked, dirty but hand in hand.
Here, I found forgotten friends on the first day of a New Year.