Phnom Penh: The Struggling Smiles
21cm x 21cm, Photography book with foreward by Herman Grech ; text and Photography by Jacob Sammut. Book comes signed by Jacob Sammut.
Book Brief: A documentation of the lives of the children living in the slums of Phnom Penh
Foreward by Herman Grech :
The five-year-old boy smiled broadly, exposing several missing teeth, as I aimed my smartphone in his direction to take a photo. Sitting on the ground playing with hundreds of discarded sea shells at a slum in Phnom Penh the boy offered me a piece of his clearly-undercooked chicken leg, unfazed by the two mice crawling into the reeking garbage beside his feet.
“Come let me show you my house,” says the boy’s neighbour Chen Srey, a pretty 17-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a doctor. Her ‘house’ is a rickety wooden structure perched on stilts above a stream of sewage. The sewage or ‘black water’ as it is called by the locals is washed down from the city to the lower areas where the slums of Phnom Penh are situated. In heavy rain the levels of this river of filth rises flooding the already raised floors of these stilt huts.
Welcome to the daily lives of thousands of street children in the Cambodian capital, a city still reeling from the devastation wrought by the brutal Pol Pot and the legacy of the Khmer Rouge. Steering an orgy of violence between 1975 and 1979, Pol Pot decimated almost two million people in a purge of the educated, the commoners and anyone who stood in his warped sights. Today almost 40 years later, the scars continue to fester. Abuse and extreme poverty are the rule of the day. Yet, the smiles planted on the faces of the homeless and orphaned children in Phnom Penh defy this daily hardship.
Phnom Penh : The Struggling Smiles
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