‘Garbage Pail Kids’ – life for Cambodian refugees in Tra Vinh
On our way from Can Tho back to Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday, we visited a dump in Tra Vinh, a rural province near the Cambodian border. There, “Doc” Bernie Duff, a Vietnam veteran who moved to Ho Chi Minh City last year, showed us his “Garbage Pail Kids” – a group of about two dozen children, some with parents or grandparents, who live and work in the trash heap, digging around for recyclable pieces of plastic that can earn them about 80 cents a day.
Our group handed out clothes, vitamins, toothbrushes, toiletries, candy and toys, but in contrast to the cash-strapped orphanages and schools we’ve visited, I couldn’t help feeling this was really a hopeless situation. These people are ethnic Cambodians who fled that country, and some don’t speak much Vietnamese. Duff is paying for some of the younger children to go to school, and when the dump is moved in a few months, said he wants to get some showers built at the new site.
Stay tuned for more photos and a profile on Duff as an artist, veteran and grassroots humanitarian. In the meantime, click on the video link below to see 13-year-old Song and 9-year-old Quary show us what they look for in the trash every day.