Bantar Gebang, Southeast Asia’s largest landfill, isn’t a place you’d expect much to be growing. Mountains of trash rise up all around you, larger every day. The rivers flow with trash and black water. At first glance, it looks like a harsh and infertile environment. The families who live here often do so in an unpleasant environment, living and working among the trash. BGBJ, “The Seeds of Bantar Gebang,” is a community that sits nestled among the landscape and people that define Bantar Gebang. Locally known as a Sanggar, it aims to combat the issues faced by children and their families as a result of living and working in the landfill. Through education, financial assistance, food, and fun, BGBJ nourishes the youth, so that they may grow beyond the bounds of Bantar Gebang, and realize a better future. Not just for themselves, but the thousands of families that call Bantar Gebang home.
When I set out to create portraits of the children of BGBJ, I didn’t want photos that connected them to the unpleasant environment they live in. I wanted photos that showed them as children that could be from anywhere. They could live in the same city as you, ride the same bus, go to the same school, drink the same soda, or wear the same shoes. The point being that the place they live, a sprawling landfill, should not define them, or the future they are capable of achieving. So, by isolating the children of Bantar Gebang from Bantar Gebang, I hope you can see them as just that, children. Children who like Disney princesses, ice cream on a hot day, summer vacation, hula hoops, playing soccer in the street, riding on your shoulders, laughing, and so much more.
You can find more about BGBJ and how to support them here