Langeng, 15, lives with his sister Pich, 13, his mother and 17 relatives in a shack beside the old garbage dump. His mother is seriously ill, but has to work hard to make sure the family can afford food. In the evenings, Langeng goes with her.
Things were worse when Langeng was little. He didn’t go to school then, he just worked as a waste picker all day long. “I was always hungry. I picked up mouldy fruit that people had thrown away and drank the last drops out of any bottles I could find.” Langeng and his sister saw other children with school uniforms and schoolbags. They begged and pleaded, and finally they were allowed to start attending PIO. “Football, school and my friends make me happy. But whenever I think about my mother being ill, it makes me really sad. So sad that I get angry.”
06:00 Wake up
Langeng and Pich sleep side by side in the family bed. The mosquito net protects them from the mosquitoes that thrive in the humid heat.
06:30 Clean and tidy
Every Wednesday Langeng sweeps the classroom floor before class, to make sure it’s clean when his classmates come in from assembly.
09:30 TV break
At break time, Langeng and his friends go to the kiosk beside school and watch the news.
11:00 Fried food, yum!
All the children eat lunch on the roof of the school. Without this meal, many of the children would go hungry. Langeng’s favourite lunches involve fried vegetables and lots
14:15 So tired, so tired...
Langeng has a nap during almost every lunch break, but sometimes he is so tired that he drops off during the English lesson in the afternoon. He only got five hours’ sleep last night, since he was working until the early hours.
15:00 Start up the computers
The last lesson of the day is held at the computers, or in the library.
17:00 Ten minutes of volleyball
After school, Langeng eats some rice and takes the chance to play volleyball for a few minutes, before starting work.
17:15 The evening shift starts
Langeng changes into his waste picker clothes. Then he heads for the city centre, through the danger
19:00 Valuable garbage
At first, Langeng and his mother each choose their own spot to work, but when darkness falls it’s safer to stick together. Soon they’ll switch on their head torches, so that they can see where they are searching. They gather cardboard, different kinds of plastic, cans and other metal objects, which they then sell to a dealer. Every dealer specialises in one particular kind of trash, which they then gather for recycling.
21:00 Walking in darkness
There is still heavy traffic on the roads in the evening. Accidents often happen. This evening alone, Langeng has heard the harsh sound of glass and metal shattering three times.
00:30 Shower before bed
When they finally get home, they park the cart full of garbage beside their shack. Despite his tiredness, Langeng has a shower. Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to sleep as he would be itching all over. After eating some leftover rice from the others dinner, he goes to bed.