Eventually we reach the open expanse of the dump. We have picked up a train of children, small half naked children. Bits of broken glass are everywhere. I worry for their feet but they seem to be able to negotiate their way through with few problems.

The dump is a vision of hell on earth. I mean every word of that. I can write about it. I can show pictures. But I can't impart how it smells. How the sickeningly soft ground gives way under your feet.
In a sea of garbage as far as the eye can see, small fires burn here and there. Bulldozers shove the trash into higher heaps. And everywhere there are children with enormous bags slung over their shoulders, picking through Phnom Penh's detritus.  If they can find enough recyclables, they can sell them off and get enough money, say 25 or 50 cents, for food. A few spoonfuls of rice or weak fish broth. Tomorrow the process will repeat itself, but clearly not a lot of people think about tomorrow here.

Copyright Estate of Anthony Vail Sloan 2009