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Life In A Garbage Dump

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Living in the United States, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in the world would ever have to live in a garbage dump.

But the reality is that right now — as you are reading this — young children in developing nations are being raised in a garbage dump. Their poverty-stricken parents have no alternative: the entire family must scour the dump daily in search of items that will help them survive.

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These children and their families may live on the outskirts of the dump, and every day, the families go to work there. Such a child never gets to see what school is like; he never gets to experience simple childhood pleasures such as a playground with swings or a sandbox. Instead, this destitute child’s “sandbox” is filled with giant trucks dumping mounds of rubbish.

A poor child working in the dump hopes that today he will find something of value — perhaps a toy, something to eat or a new sweater. His treasure is what others have thrown away.


  • Guatemala City Dump - you must pay to pick through trash
  • Honduras Dump - children wait for the trash truck along with vultures
  • Over 2,000 Honduran children work in dumps
  • Garbage dumps emit methane, a gas that can cause nausea and vomiting

Due to the dire economic circumstances of the poorest communities in Latin America and the Caribbean, these families have no other options. Fathers, sons, mothers and daughters must go to the dump every day to simply live. They have no opportunities or spare time to enjoy… to play… to dream. They must simply survive.

Some children, who desperately wish for nothing more than a truck or a doll, manage to find one in the dump. Chances are that what they find will be shabby and incomplete — a truck missing a wheel, a doll without an arm — but these children are happy to have something to salvage… the closest thing to a “new” toy that they may ever experience.

Around noon, the hottest part of the day is approaching, and the fumes and the smell of the dump are circulating. It is lunchtime. Children who are working in the dump are hungry. They will not have a sandwich in a brown-bag lunch packed by their mothers; they will not find a shiny red apple amid the refuse, or experience opening a bag of potato chips. Instead, they will have what they can find to eat — someone’s leftovers.

These families will spend time in this dangerous and unhealthy environment searching for tin, aluminum cans and materials that can be recycled. Working at the dump, the family can make as little as $1 - $2 a day.

No child should have to grow up living in a garbage dump; this is not an experience that any human being should have to endure. However, the reality in developing nations today is that generations of families will spend their time together sifting through garbage, looking for something to eat, or a toy to play with, or salvageable items to be sold for income.

These children and families need basic essentials such as nutritious food, water and a healthy environment in which to live.

Although most Americans consider basic education as an essential part of growing up, schooling is a luxury for poverty-stricken children. Without the education and skills needed to succeed, poor children are unable to break the cycle of poverty that has trapped families and communities for generations.

As members of one global family, we have the responsibility to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need. Please help Food For The Poor bring relief to families who struggle each day, living under inhumane conditions. Through your gift, you can help ensure that these children grow up in environments where they are free to play, laugh, learn and dream.

More on Garbage Dumps: La Chureca, Nicaragua - Experiences in Hell and Ravaging Through Garbage Dump is a Daily Routine to Children in Guatemala

- June 2011

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