VietNamNet Bridge – Six years old, but Hau has never been to school. His life is associated with garbage. He has never known about entertainment centers for kids, books, and even no cartoons because his family does not any TV set.



Healthy men rake the rubbish while women air the garbage.


From 5am, Hau’s mother woke him up. The family ate something then walked to the giant garbage dump located on a moor in Tan Hoa commune, Dong Hoa district, Binh Duong province. This garbage mountain is nearly 10 m high, extending along the field.

Hau's work is assisting his mother to collect rubbish or sent on small errands by adults. His tiny hands were callous because of glass debris mixed in trash. "She (his mother) told me to help her to earn money to buy rice," Hau explained.

Hau’s lunch with 15 other people in his big family was prepared on a tarpaulin place spread out on the waste dumps. Apart from a pot of rice which was cooked in the early morning, some simple dishes were flies. They said almost nothing, just silently ate.

During the break, Mr. Nguyen Van Hoanh smoked a pipe tobacco. Hoanh nestled into his mother to take a short sleep. At 1 pm, when rubbish got dry, people began burning it until the sun completely set down.




Sometimes Hau turned the dumping ground into a play ground.



Hoanh said this dump had existed for a long time so the waste started being rotten. There were impurities in the trash, which could be screened to use as fertilizer. To screen fertilizer from rubbish dust, they firstly used rakes and hoes to dig up rubbish, then dry it under the sun until the humus get dry. The things that are not decayed were burnt and then screened by an iron net. As the "captain" here, Hoang assigned men to dig up rubbish, women to dry rubbish and kids to pick up anything that can be sold.

"In the last several days, it rained every afternoon so we had to burn rubbish at noon. Burning waste in the sun was terrible but we have got used to it," Hoand added.

These people compared their job as "a battle," a battle without bombs and bullets but everyday they have to suffer so much smoke and dust from rubbish and lots of germs. No gloves, no protection mask, despite smoke and dust, despite the burning sun, for many years they have been living that way.

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Sau (born in O Mon, Can Tho), is the oldest and also the one who has the longest seniority in this job said that the people working here are descendants, brothers in a family. Because of underemployment at home, for many years they have moved from the landfills in Binh Duong to those in Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City. Every day each two people can collect a dozen of bags of fertilizer from garbage dumps (each bag weighing 35 kg) to sell to rubber companies, earning VND25,000 to VND30,000 ($1-1.5)/person/day.

"In my home, I had several hundred square meters of field but the land is not enough to feed our big family. I was not young or healthy enough to work as hired laborers. Seeing me working at the garbage dumps, the kids also followed. Now the whole family works here," she said.

Above the landfill were six tents, which were built by the canvas and wood bars. In the afternoon when they finished the job, they climbed up to the tent from the landfill to the tents by a rope.

Hau’s house was considered the best here because it had an electric fan, some pots and a creaking bed. The four corners were full of things that the family picked up from the garbage dump. The musty smell of the house and the smell from the garbage dump made the air stifling hot but everyone here was calm because they got used to it.

Every day, Hau’s mother taught him several letters, which were not enough to help him spell his name. The dream of Hau and the kids here is to “have a lot of rubbish."




Despite smoke, dust and smell, 16 people still work with garbage everyday.




Garbage piled as mountains for many years. Men do the toughest task – digging up the rubbish.


Impurities in the waste are screened to be used as fertilizer.


Hau nestled in his mother to take a short sleep after lunch.


The small house on the landfill is the home to this family. To go home they have to climb a long rope.


Although life is hard, the family has moved from landfills to landfills in the last ten years to earn a living.