On her ninth birthday, Annalyn S.* was photographed by German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach, happily jumping on a red sofa that she had found on the garbage dump near the city of Manila (Philippines). It has been three years now that Annalyn and her family have lived beside Manila’s enormous garbage dump called “Aroma Smokey Mountain”. That’s where her family lives in a charcoal burners’ camp.
Like most other children in this camp, Annalyn has to search for wood among the garbage every day, bring it to an oven and monitor the charcoal production amidst acrid smoke and unbearable heat. Together with her siblings and parents, she has to bring thousands of liters of water to extinguish the fire and collect the finished charcoal. The family has to hand over most of their yield to the local mafia.
Like almost all children here, Annalyn is malnourished and thus much too skinny and small for her age. She looks like a five-year-old. Many of the children can neither read nor write and do not attend any school. One day, Annalyn wants to be a teacher.
This photo, I think, is perhaps the best example of what I meant in my last video post... happiness, like peace, has little or nothing to do with what's going on in the world around us, but everything to do with what's going on inside of us.