This is my friend Sokunthea. She is 29 years old and her son Rah is just four years old. She collects rubbish for a living, not because she wants to but because she has to along with thousands of others in Phnom Penh. Sokunthea will get up at 7.00 in the morning and work until about 9.00 at night collecting what she can and then selling it on to be re-cycled i.e. plastic bottles, drink cans, cardboard etc. I met her once when I was on my way home from work and it was just beginning to rain, well pour actually, and of course the obvious was in front of me as she had nowhere to go but just sheltered until the rain had stopped-maybe an hour or two later. I bought her a raincoat- it was the least I could do. When she gets home she will then cook a meal for herself and her son. She will stop once during the day for lunch.
She has been doing this for the last four years; the first two with her husband before he left her and the last two by herself. Rah has not been well lately and had to spend time in hospital, another added cost they could have done without. As well as looking for rubbish Sokum will also search for food to see if there is anything she can find to eat to save having to pay for it.
She will earn about one and a quarter dollars a day ( .65p ), that is less than £5.00 a week and that will have to pay for food for the two of them, her rent and any other costs that may come up ( hospital fees etc ). Oh, and a working week is seven days long. There is no day of rest for many in this poverty stricken country.