But, it’s more than just a home, they say.
Every morning and afternoon they search through huge piles of rubbish for scrap metal and other items that can be sold to recyclers in Lae to generate an income for their families.
“We collect scrap metals and other “valuables” that we can sell and get money,” said Ricky
Ricky and other youths make up a small community of about one thousand men, women and children who live off the rubbish that comes from Lae’s industries.
Many of them don’t have a formal job. They also chose to live illegally on that land that many of us might see as hazardous to our health.
“Sometimes it’s embarrassing when people stare at us as we dig through stacks of rubbish, but it’s our life. Where else can we go?” Ricky said.
In recent years, many more small communities continue to emerge around dumps in other towns and cities in Papua New Guinea as more and more people slip through urban poverty.
About a month ago, the Lae’s urban authority said the dump could no longer hold the amount of rubbish that Lae city is producing. They proposed that the dump must be shut down permanently.
The authority meanwhile is negotiating with the provincial government to relocate the dump.
Despite the health risks, many of them haven’t made up their minds to leave because of the fortunes they get off the dump.
If the dump closes, Ricky and other families who fend off this dump will have to look for other alternatives to sustaining their livelihoods. [EMTV]