The waste dump in Payatas is Manila's main waste dump with garbage piled as high as seven stories in some places. Impoverished squatters, including many children, live in the area and pick through the dump to collect items they can sell. When part of the garbage mountain collapsed on July 11, partly weakened from a recent typhoon, garbage crashed down onto the huts and shacks below and caught fire, apparently ignited by fallen power cables and stoves in the huts.
It may be hard for many people to imagine what it would be like to live in such conditions, but that's the daily reality for the thousands who live at the Payatas dump. Many of the residents of Payatas make their living by digging through the influx of "fresh" trash, scavenging for plastic, cardboard, paper, wood, glass, metal and other items that can be sold to recycling agents.
The meager earnings made by one person are not enough to buy food for even for a day. Whole families are forced to climb the mountain each day, hoping that together they can earn enough to feed everyone. Children as young as four years old must work in their daily struggle for survival.