A Glimmer of Hope in Namu Bintang Landfill

A landfill, also known as a dump, rubbish dump or both, rubbish landfill dump (and historically as a midden), is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common methods of organized waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world.

Landfills may include internal waste disposal sites (where a producer of waste carries out their own waste disposal at the place of production) as well as sites used by many producers. Many landfills are also used for other waste management purposes, such as the temporary storage, consolidation and transfer, or processing of waste material (sorting, treatment, or recycling). Previously, the landfill is the most common way to waste an organized and remains so in some places in the world.

Some negative impacts may result from the presence of landfill. These impacts can vary, such as fatal accident (bird carcasses that were buried under a pile of garbage), damage to infrastructure (damage to the access road by heavy vehicles), local environmental pollution (such as groundwater contamination by leakage and residual soil contamination during the use of landfill, as well as after the closure of the landfill), release of methane gas caused by decaying organic wastes (methane is a greenhouse gas that many times more potent than carbon dioxide, and can endanger a resident of a place), protect the carriers of diseases such as mice and flies especially from the landfill is operated incorrectly, as general in the third world, lesion on wildlife, and simple disturbance (dust, stench, vermin, or noise pollution).

A female scavenger while collecting the plastic trash.

A landfill also may refer to ground that has been filled in with soil and rocks instead of waste materials, so that it can be used for a specific purpose, such as for building houses. Unless they are stabilized, these areas may experience severe shaking or liquefaction of the ground in a large earthquake.

Namu Bintang Landfill, one of the landfills that located in Medan, North Sumatra gives a sad and heart breaking view. There are hundreds of scavengers who try to earn money for a living from collecting garbage. By observations, the number of women scavengers who are in this place more than men. Moreover, a number of children who come to help their parents picking up the rubbish also found. Based on my interviews with several scavengers, the landfill was already approached by scavengers from 04.00 am until sunset. They collecting plastic waste for later sale to the trash fence that comes every afternoon to this place to buy the plastic garbage that collected in sacks ranging from IDR300 up to IDR1,500 per kilo depending on the type of waste. In a day, the scavengers can collect 10 sacks or more, or earning an average of IDR15,000 of income per day.

At first, the scavengers were seen very objection at the time i took some photographs of them. According to a few scavengers, they do not like the presence of journalists or photographers in this place. Apparently they felt ashamed and tried to hide their profession as scavenger. Several scavengers have had an unpleasant experience, which once ever some writing that accompanied with their pictures appeared in a number of media which eventually seen by their relatives in the village where they came from, and ultimately know about their occupation as scavenger. And so, they seems uncomfortable with anyone appearance in the landfill. However, there are times when they feel happy and helped by the presence of some social groups who come to this place to provide assistance in the form of staples such as rice and other household necessities.

Tragic experience has also been experienced by some scavengers, such as tractor crushed and buried in the trash. And even according to their confessions, some scavengers who experienced the tragic events had finally ended with the death. There are also several tents that set up in this place, which was set as their shelter from the hot sunrays, where they enjoy lunch amid the stench was overpowering, or even where they sleep when exhausted.

Waste hoarding, has become a big problem for the world, especially the most common in the third world countries that have poor and less organized waste management. The population that growth rapidly, coupled with the unconsciousness of society to be more concerned with the environment by throwing trash in its place into the biggest factor of the existence of this waste problem. Mount garbage like this in Namu Bintang on one hand bring adverse environmental impact, while on the other hand also brings hopes to people with below average incomes.

A female scavenger seen in Namu Bintang landfill.

After the dump truck unloading its trash, the scavengers began to pick up trash from the scrap heap.
A female scavenger in Namu Bintang landfill.
Petrus, Hendra, and Deni, three young boys whose lived and still studied at elementary school nearby, helped their mother in the Namu Bintang landfill during school holidays.
Petrus, a young boy who helped his mother ride along the dump truck into the Namu Bintang landfill.
A young scavenger passing by and carrying the collected trash in a sack.
Scavengers that seen on the Namu Bintang landfill.

There were so many female scavengers seen on the Namu Bintang landfill.

A scavenger pass by while carrying the collected trash sack. After collecting one or several sacks of trash, they usually taking break for a while in the tents.
Scavengers seen collecting the palstic trash.
Tractors are used to drag the trash up to the mounting piles of garbage.
The scavengers surrounding the tractor after it drag the trash up to the mounting piles of garbage to find the plastic trash.
Tents that build for resting place of the scavengers.

Tractor on the mounting piles of garbage.
A scavenger on the mounting piles of garbage.

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Copyright © 2011 Novri Wahyu Perdana. All rights reserved.
All images were taken by using Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EF 17-40mm F/4L USM.

6 responses to “A Glimmer of Hope in Namu Bintang Landfill

  1. Great story and and fantastic photos Novri. You and your brothers photos and words make me totally invested in learning your culture and your world through your eyes.

    • Thanks a lot Lionel🙂
      You mean Didex right? Yup, he is my brother!
      Me, Didex and other friends are ussually took ourselves to take some photographs at every chance we have. Human interest, landscapes, and events are our main priority, and what we mostly looking for.
      Well, me and Didex are very interested in photojournalism. And we try to keep up our skills, sense of art, knowledge about it.
      I’m very glad if you like the results and get or learn something from them.
      Thank you very much Lionel, for your appreciation and kind words my friend🙂

  2. Amazing pictures,,, Your pictures really capture that very well, especially all the black and white shots… Like This One Brader🙂

  3. Pingback: nuclear war 2011

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